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Full text of "Empedocles on Etna, and other poems"

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Bv A. 

• 1852. 

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The River 73 

Excuse 75 

Indieference 78 

Too Late 80 

On the Rhine 81 

Longing ... 83 

The Lake 85 

Parting 87 

Absence 93 

Destiny 95 

To Marguerite 96 

Human Lite 98 

Despondency 100 

Sonnet 101 

Self-Deception 102 

Lines written by a Death-Bed .... 104 




I. Crtstram .109 

II. ilscult of SrclanD 129 

III. 5scult of Brtttanjj 14-1 

rOEMS :— 

Memorial Verses 157 

Courage 162 

self-dependence 164 

A Summer Night 167 

The Buried Lipe 172 

A Parjewell 178 

Stanzas in IMemory of the Author of " Obermann " 184 

Consolation 196 

Lines written in Kensington Gardens . . 201 

Sonnet 204 

The Second Best .... . . 205 

Revolutions 207 

The Youth of Nature .209 

The Youth of Man -217 

Morality 224 

Progress 227 

The Future ... 231 




Pausanias, a Physician. 
Callicles, a young Barp-player. 

The Scene of the Poem is on Mount Etna ; at first in the forest 
region, afterwards on the summit of the mountain. 


A Pass in the forest region of Etna. Mornimj. 
Callicles, alone, resting on a rock hy the path. 


The mules, I think, will not be here this hour. 
They feel the cool wet tiu-f under their feet 
By the stream side, after the dusty lanes 
In which they have toil'd all night from Catana, 
And scarcely will they budge a yard. Pan ! 
How gracious is the mountain at this hour ! 


A thousand times have I been here alone 

Or with the revellers from the mountain towns, 

But never on so fair a morn : — the sun 

Is shining on the brilliant mountain crests, 

And on the highest pines : but further down 

Here in the valley is in shade ; the sward 

Is dark, and on the stream the mist still hangs : 

One sees one's foot-prints crush'd in the wet grass, 

One's breath curls in the air ; and on these pines 

That climb ifrom the stream's edge, the long grey tufts, 

Which the goats love, are jewell'd thick with dew. 

Here will I stay till the slow litter comes. 

I have my harp too — that is well. — Apollo ! 

"What mortal could be sick or sorry here ? 

I know not in what mind Empedocles, 

Whose mules I follow' d, may be coming up, 

But if, as most men say, he is half mad 

With exile, and with brooding on his wrongs, 

Pausanias, his sage friend, who mounts with him, 

Could scarce have lighted on a lovelier cure. 


The mules must be below, far down : I hear 
Their tiuklinor bells, mix'd with the sons; of birds, 
Rise faintly to me — now it stops ! — Who's here ? 
Pausanias ! and on foot 1 alone ? 


And thou, then 1 
I left thee supping with Pisianax, 
Witli thy head full of wine, and thy hair crown'd. 
Touching thy harp as the whim came on thee. 
And prais'd and spoil'd by master and by guests 
Almost as much as the new dancing girl. 
Why hast thou followed us 1 


The night was hot, 
And the feast past its prime : so we slipp'd out, 
Some of us, to the portico to breathe : 
Pisianax, thou know'st, diinks late : and then. 
As I was lifting my soil'd garland off, 
I saw the mules and litter in the court, 
And in the litter sate Empedocles ; 


Thou, too, wert with him. Straightway I sped home ; 
I saddled my white mule, and all night long 
Through the cool lovely country foUow'd you, 
Pass'd you a little since as morning dawn'd, 
And have this hour sate by the torrent here. 
Till the slow mules should climb in sight again. 
And now 1 


And now, back to the town with speed. 
Crouch in the wood first, till the mules have pass'd : 
They do but halt, they will be here anon. 
Thou must be viewless to Empedocles ; 
Save mine, he must not meet a human eye. 
One of his moods is on him that thou know'st : 
I think, thou would' st not vex him. 


No — and yet 
I would fain stay and help thee tend him : once 
He knew me well, and would oft notice me. 
And still, I know not how, he draws me to him, 


And I could watch him with his proud sad face, 

His flowing locks and gold-encircled brow 

And kingly gait, for ever : such a spell 

In his severe looks, such a majesty 

As drew of old the people after him, 

In Agi'igentum and Olympia, 

When his star reign' d, before his banishment, 

Is potent still on me in his decline. 

But oh, Pausanias, he is chang'd of late : 

There is a settled trouble in his air 

Admits no momentary brightening now ; 

And when he comes among his friends at feasts, 

'Tis as an oi-phan among prosperous boys. 

Thou know'st of old he loved this harp of mine, 

AVhen fii-st he sojourn'd with Pisianax : 

He is now always moody, and I fear him ; 

But I would serve him, soothe him, if I could, 

Dar d one but try. 


Tliou wert a kind child ever. 


He loves thee, but he must not see thee now. 
Thou hast indeed a rare touch on thy harp, 
He loves that in thee too : there was a time 
(But that is pass'd) he would have paid thy strain 
With music to have drawn the stars from heaven. 
He has his harp and laurel with him still. 
But he has laid the use of music by. 
And all w^hich might relax his settled gloom. 
Yet thou mayst try thy playing if thou wilt, 
But thou must keep unseen : follow us on, 
But at a distance ; in these solitudes. 
In this clear mountain air, a voice will rise, 
Though from afar, distinctly : it may soothe him. 
Play when we halt, and when the evening comes, 
And I must leave him, (for his jjleasure is 
To be left musing these soft nights alone 
In the high unfrequented mountain spots,) 
Then watch him, for he ranges swift and far. 
Sometimes to Etna's top, and to the cone ; 
But hide thee in the rocks a great way down. 


And try thy noblest strains, my Callicles, 
With the sweet night to help thy harmony. 
Thou wilt earn my thanks sure, and perhaps his. 


^lore than a day and night, Pausanias, 
Of this fair summer weather, on these hills, 
Would I bestow to help Empedocles. 
That needs no thanks : one is fai' better here 
Than in the broiling city in these heats. 
But tell me, how hast thou persuaded him 
In this his present fierce, man-hating mood 
To bring thee out with him alone on Etna? 


Thou hast heard all men speaking of Panthea, 
The woman who at Agrigentum lay 
Thirty long days in a cold trance of death, 
And whom Empedocles call'd back to life. 
Thou art too young to note it, but his power 


Swells with the swelling evil of this time, 

And holds men mute to see where it will rise. 

He could stay swift diseases in old days, 

Chain madmen by the music of his lyre, 

Cleanse to sweet airs the breath of poisonous streams, 

And in the mountain chinks inter the winds. 

This he could do of old, but now, since all 

Clouds and grows daily worse in Sicily, 

Since broils tear us in twain, since this new swarm 

Of Sophists has got empire in our schools. 

Where he was paramount, since he is banish' d, 

And lives a lonely man in triple gloom. 

He gTasps the very reins of life and death. 

I ask'd him of Panthea yesterday, 

When we were gather'd with Pisianax, 

And he made answer, I should come at night 

On Etna here, and be alone with him, 

And he would tell me, as his old, tried friend, 

Who still was faithful, what might profit me; 

That is, the secret of this miracle. 



Ball: Tluui a doctor? Thou art superstitious. 

Simple Pausanias, 'twas no miracle. 

Panthea, for I know her kinsmen well, 

Was subject to these trances from a girl. 

Empedocles would say so, did he deign : 

But he still lets the people, whom he scorns. 

Gape and cry wizard at him, if they list. 

But thou, thou art no company for him, 

Thou art as cross, as sour'd as himself. 

Thou hast some wrong from thine own citizens. 

And then thy friend is banish'd, and on that 

Straightway thou fallest to arraign the times, 

As if the sky was impious not to fall. 

The Sophists are no enemies of his ; 

I hear, Gorgias, their chief, speaks nobly of him, 

As of his gifted master and once friend. 

He is too scornful, too high-wrought, too bitter. 

'Tis not the times, 'tis not the Sophists vex him : 


There is some root of suffering in himself, 

Some secret and unfollow'd vein of woe, 

Which makes the times look black and sad to him. 

Pester him not in this his sombre mood 

With questionings about an idle tale, 

But lead him through the lovely mountain paths, 

And keep his mind from preying on itself, 

And talk to him of things at hand and common. 

Not miracles : thou art a learned man, 

But credulous of fables as a girl. 


And thou, a boy whose tongue outruns his knowledge. 

And on whose lightness blame is thrown away. 

Enough of this : I see the litter wind 

Up by the torrent-side, under the pines. 

I must rejoin Empedocles. Do thou 

Crouch in the brush-wood till the mules have pass'd. 

Then play thy kind part well. Farewell till night. 



Noon. A Glen on the highest skirts oj the woody retjion 
of Etna. 

Empedocles. Paus.vnias. 


The iioou is hot : when we have cross'd the stream 

We shall have left the woody tract, and come 

Upon the open shoulder of the hill. 

See how the giant spires of yellow bloom 

Of the sun-loving gentian, in the heat, 

Are shining on those naked slopes like flame. 

Let us rest here : and now, Empedocles, 

Panthea's history. 

[A harp note helow is heard. 


Hark! what soiuid was that 


Rose from below ? If it were possible, 
And we were not so far from human haunt, 
I should have said that some one touch'd a hai-p. 
Hark ! there again ! 


'Tis the boy Callicles, 
The sweetest hai'p player in Catana. 
He is for ever coming on these hills, 
In summer, to all country festivals, 
With a gay revelling band : he breaks from them 
Sometimes, and wanders far among the glens. 
But heed him not, he will not mount to us ; 
I spoke with him this morning. Once more, therefore, 
Instruct me of Panthea's story, Master, 
As I have pray'd thee. 


That? and to what end? 


It is enough that all men speak of it. 


But I will also say, that, when the Gods 

Visit us as they do with sign and plague, 

To know those spells of time that stay their hand 

Were to live free'd from terror. 


Spells? Mistiiist them. 
Mind is the spell which governs earth and heaven. 
Man has a mind with which to plan his safety. 
Know that, and help thyself. 


But thy own words ? 
" The wit and counsel of man was never clear, 
Troubles confuse the little wit he has." 
Mind is a hght which the Gods mock us with, 
To lead those false who trust it. 

\^The harp sounds again. 


Hist ! once more ! 
Listen, Pausanias ! — Ay, 'tis Callicles : 
I know those notes amonsf a thousand. Hark ! 


CALLICLES siiigs unseen, from below. 

The track winds down to the clear stream, 

To cross the sparkhng shallows : there 

The cattle love to gather, on their way 

To the high mountain pastures, and to stay, 

Till the rough cow-herds drive them past, 

Knee-deep in the cool ford : for 'tis the last 

Of all the woody, high, well-water'd dells 

On Etna ; and the beam 

Of noon is broken there by chestnut boughs 

Down its steep verdant sides : the air 

Is freshen'd by the leaping stream, which throws 

Eternal showers of sj)ray on the moss'd roots 

Of trees, and veins of turf, and long dark shoots 

Of ivy-plants, and fragrant hanging bells 

Of hyacinths, and on late anemones. 

That mufSe its wet banks : but glade, 

And stream, and sward, and chestnut trees, 

End here : Etna beyond, in the broad glare 


Of the hot noon, Tvithout a shade, 

Slope behind slope, up to the peak, lies bare ; 

The peak, round which the white clouds play. 

In such a glen, on such a day. 
On Pelion, on the grassy gi'ound, 
Chiron, the aged Centaur, lay; 
The young Achilles standing by. 
The Centaur taught him to explore 
The mountains : where the glens are diy, 
And the tir'd Centaurs come to rest, 
And where the soaking springs abound, 
And the straight ashes gi'ow for spears, 
And where the hill-goats come to feed, 
And the sea-eagles build their nest. 
He show'd him Phthia far away. 
And said— Boy, I taught this lore 
To Peleus, in long distant years. — 
He told him of the Gods, the stars, 
The tides :— and then of mortal wars, 


And of the life that Heroes lead 
Before they reach the Elysian place 
And rest in the immortal mead : 
And all the wisdom of his race. 

[^The music helow ceases, and Empedocles speaks, 
accompanying himself in a solemn manned' on 
his harp. 

The howling void to span 
A cord the Gods first slung, 
And then the Soul of Man 
There, like a mirror, hung. 
And bade the winds through space impel the gusty toy. 

Hither and thither spins 
The wind-borne miiToring Soul : 
A thousand glimpses wins. 
And never sees a whole : 
Looks once, and drives elsewhere, and leaves its last 


The Gods laugh in their sleeve 
To watch man doubt and fear, 
Who knows not what to believe 
Where he sees nothing clear, 
And dai-es stamp nothing false w^here he finds nothing 

Is this, Pausanias, so ? 
And can our souls not strive, 
But with the winds must go 
And hm-ry where they drive 1 
Is Fate indeed so strong, man's strength indeed so poor ? 

I will not judge : that man, 
Howbeit, I judge as lost. 
Whose mind allows a plan 
"Wliich would degrade it most : 
And he treats doubt the best who tries to see least ill. 


Be not, then, Fear's blind slave. 
Thou art my friend ; to thee, 
All knowledge that I have, 
All skill I wield, are free. 
Ask not the latest news of the last miracle 

Ask not what days and nights 
In trance Panthea lay, 
But ask how thou such sights 
May'st see without dismay. 
Ask what most helps when known, thou son of Anchitus. 

What 1 hate, and awe, and shame 
Fill thee to see our day ; 
Thou feelest thy Soul's frame 
Shaken and in dismay : 
AVhat ? life and time go hard with thee too, as with us ; 


Thy citizens, 'tis said, 
Envy thee and oppress. 
Thy goodness no men aid. 
All strive to make it less : 
Tyranny, pride, and lust fill Sicily's abodes : 

Heaven is with earth at strife, 
Signs make thy soul afraid. 
The dead return to hfe. 
Rivers are dried, winds stay'd : 
Scarce can one think in calm, so threatening are the 

And we feel, day and night. 
The burden of om-selves 1 — 
Well, then, the wiser wight 
In his own bosom delves, 
And asks what ails him so, and gets what cure he can. 



The Sophist sneers — Fool, take 
Thy pleasure, right or wrong. — 
The pious wail — Forsake 
A world these Sophists throng. — 
Be neither Saint nor Sophist led, but be a man. 

These hundred doctors try 
To preach thee to their school. 
We have the truth, they cry. 
And yet their oracle, 
Trumpet it as they will, is but the same as thine. 

Once read thy own breast right, 
And thou hast done with fears. 
Man gets no other light. 
Search he a thousand years. 
Sink in thyself : there ask what ails thee, at that shrine. 


What makes thee struggle and rave ? 
A\Tiy are men ill at ease ? 
'Tis that the lot they have 
Fails their own will to please. 
For man would make no murmuring, were his will 

And why is it that still 
Man with his lot thus fights ? 
'Tis that he makes this ivill 
The measure of his rights, 
And believes Nature outrag'd if his will's gainsaid. 

Couldst thou, Pausanias, learn 
How deep a fault is this ; 
Couldst thou but once discern 
Thou hast no right to bliss, 
No title from the Gods to welfare and repose ; 


Then, thou wouldst look less maz'd 
Whene'er from bliss deban-'d, 
Nor think the Gods were craz'd 
When thy own lot went hard. 
But we are all the same — the fools of our own woes. 

For, from the first faint morn 
Of life, the thirst for bliss 
Deep in Man's heart is born, 
And, sceptic as he is, 
He fails not to j udge clear if this is quench'd or no. 

Nor is that thirst to blame. 
Man errs not that he deems 
His welfare his true aim. 
He eiTS because he dreams 
The world does but exist that welfare to bestow. 


We mortals ai'e no kiugs 
For each of whom to sway 
A new-made world up-springs 
Meaut merely for his play. 
No, we are strauofers here : the world is from of old. 

In vain our pent wills fret 
And would the world subdue 
Limits we did not set 
Condition all we do. 
Born into life we are, and life must be our mould. 

Born into life : who lists 
May what is false maintain, 
And for himself make mists 
Through which to see less plain : 
The world is what it is, for all om- dust and din. 


Born into life : in vain, 
Opinions, those or these, 
Unalter'd to retain 
The obstinate mind decrees. 
Experience, like a sea, soaks all-effacing in. 

Born into life : 'tis we. 
And not the world, are new. 
Our cry for bliss, our plea, 
Others have urg'd it too. 
Our wants have all been felt, our errors made before. 

No eye could be too sound 
To observe a world so vast : 
No patience too profound 
To sort what's here amass'd. 
How man may here best live no care too great to explore. 


But we, — as some nide guest 
Would change, where'er he roam, 

The manners there profess'd 
To those he brings from home ; — 
"We mark not the world's ways, but would have it 
learu ours. 

The world proclaims the terms 
On which man wins content. 
Reason its voice confirms. 
We spui'n them : and invent 
False weakness in the world, and in ourselves false 

Riches we wish to get, 
Yet remain spendthi'ifts still ; 
We would have health, and yet 
Still use our bodies ill : 
Bafflers of our own prayers from youth to Ufe's last 


We would have inward peace, 
Yet will not look within : 
We would have misery cease, 
Yet will not cease from sin : 
We want all pleasant ends, but will use no harsh means ; 

We do not what we ought ; 
What we ought not, we do ; 
And lean upon the thought 
That Chance will bring us through. 
But our own acts, for good or ill, are mightier powers. 

Yet, even when man forsakes 
All sin, — is just, is pure ; 
Abandons all that makes 
His welfare insecure ; 
Other existences there are, which clash with ours. 


Like us, the lightning fires 
Love to have scope and play. 
The stream, hke us, desires 
An unimpeded way. 
Like us, the Libyan wind dehghts to roam at large. 

Streams will not curb their pride 
The just man not to entomb, 
Nor lightnings go aside 
To leave his virtues room, 
Nor is the wind less rough that blows a good man's 

Nature, with equal mind, 
Sees all her sons at play, 
Sees man control the wind, 
The wind sweep man away ; 
Allows the proudly-riding and the founder d bark. 


And, lastly, though of ours 
No weakness spoil our lot ; 
Though the non-human j^owers 
Of Nature harm us not ; 
The ill-deeds of other men make often our life dark. 

What were the wise man's plan 1 
Thi'ough this sharp, toil-set life 
To fight as best he can, 
And win what's won by strife ; 
But we an easier way to cheat our pains have found. 

Scratch'd by a fall, with moans. 
As children of weak age 
Lend life to the dumb stones 
Whereon to vent their rage, 
And bend their little fists, and rate the senseless ground ; 


So, loath to suffer mute, 
We, peopling the void air, 
Make Gods to whom to impute 
The ills we ought to bear ; 
With God and Fate to rail at, sufifering easily. 

Yet grant — as Sense long miss'd 
Things that are now perceiv'd, 
And much may stiU exist 
Which is not yet believ'd — 
Grant that the world were full of Gods we cannot 

All things the world that fill 
Of but one stuff are spun, 
That we who rail are still 
With what we rail at one : 
One with the o'er-labour d Power that through the 
breadth and length 


Of Earth, and Air, and Sea, 
In men, and plants, and stones, 
Has toil perpetually, 
And struggles, pants, and moans ; 
Fain would do all things well, but sometimes fails in 

And, punctually exact, 
This universal God 
Alike to any act 
Proceeds at any nod, 
And patiently declaims the cursings of himself. 

This is not what Man hates. 
Yet he can cm-se but this. 
Harsh Gods and hostile Fates 
Are dreams : this only is : 
Is everywhere : sustains the wise, the foolish elf. 


Nor onl}^ in the intent 
To attach blame elsewhere. 
Do we at will invent 
Stern Powers who make their care 
To embitter hnman life, malignant Deities ; 

But, next, we would reverse 
The scheme oui'selves have spun, 
And what we made to curse 
We now would lean upon, 
And feign kind Gods who perfect what man vainly tries. 

Look, the world tempts om^ eye. 
And we would know it all. 
We map the starry sky. 
We mine this earthen ball, 
We measure the sea-tides, we number the sea-sands : 


We scrutinize the dates 
Of long-past human things, 
The bounds of effac'd states, 
The hues of deceas'd kings : 
We search out dead men's words, and works of dead 
men's hands : 

We shut our eyes, and muse 
How oui' own minds are made ; 
What springs of thought they use, 
How righten'd, how betray'd ; 
And spend our wit to name what most employ unnam'd : 

But still, as we proceed, 
The mass swells more and more 
Of volumes yet to read. 
Of secrets yet to explore. 
Our hair grows gi'ey, our eyes are dimm'd, our heat is 
tam'd — 


We rest our faculties, 
And thus address the Gods : — 
" Tiiie Science if there is, 
It stays in your abodes. 
!Man's measures cannot span the iUimitable All : 

" You only can take in 
The world's immense design. 
Our desperate search was sin. 
Which henceforth we resign : 
Sure only that your mind sees all things which Itefoll. 

Fools ! that in man's brief term 
He cannot all things \iew, 
Affords no ground to affirm 
That there are Gods who do : 
Nor does being weary prove that he has where to rest. 


Again : our youtliful blood 
Claims rapture as its right. 
The world, a rolling flood 
Of newness and delight, 
Draws in the euanioiu''d gazer to its shining breast ; 

Pleasure, to our hot grasp 
Gives flowers after flowers ; 
With passionate warmth we clasp 
Hand after hand in ours : 
Nor do we soon perceive how fast om- 3'outh is spent. 

At once our eyes grow clear : 
We see in blank dismay 
Year posting after year, 
Sense after sense decay ; 
Our shivering heart is min'd by secret discontent : 


Yet still, in spite of truth, 
In spite of hopes entomb'd, 
That longing of our youth 
Bums ever unconsum'd : 
Still hungTier for delight as delights grow more rare. 

We pause ; we hush our heart, 
And then address the Gods : — 
" The world hath fail'd to impart 
The joy our youth forebodes, 
Fail'd to fill up the void which in our breasts we bear. 

" Changeful till now, we still 
Look'd on to something new : 
Let us, with changeless will, 
Henceforth look on to you ; 
To find with you the joy we in vain here requir* 


Fools ! that so often here 
Happiness mock'd our prayer, 
I think, might make us fear 
A hke event elsewhere : 
Make us, not fly to dreams, but moderate desire. 

And yet, for those who know 
Themselves, who wisely take 
Their way through hfe, and bow 
To what they cannot break, — 
Why should I say that life need yield but moderate bliss? 

Shall we, with tempers spoil'd. 
Health sapp'd by living ill, 
And judgments all embroil'd 
By sadness and self-will. 
Shall we judge what for man is not high bliss or is ? 


Is it SO small a thing 
To have enjoy'd the sun, 
To have liv'd light in the spring, 
To have lov'd, to have thought, to have done ; 
To have advanc'd true friends, and beat down baffling foes ; 

That we must feign a bliss 
Of doubtful future date, 
And while we di-eam on this 
Lose all our present state, 
And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose 1 

Not much, I know, you prize 
What pleasures may be had, 
Who look on life with eyes 
Estrang'd, like mine, and sad : 
And yet the village churl feels the truth more than you. 


Who 's loth to leave this life 
Which to him little yields : 
His hard-task'd sunburnt wife, 
His often-labour'd fields ; 
The boors with whom he talk'd, the country spots he 

But thou, because thou hear'st, 
^fen scoff at Heaven and Fate ; 
Because the Gods thou fear'st 
Fail to make blest thy state, 
Tremblest, and wilt not dare to trust the joys there are. 

I say, Fear not ! life still 
Leaves human effort scope. 
But, since life teems with ill, 
Nurse no extravagant hope. 
Because thou must not dream, thou need'st not then 

\^A long pause. At the end of it the notes of a harp 
helow are again heard, and Callicles sings : — 


Far, far from here, 
The Adi'iatic breaks in a warm bay 
Among the green Illj^ian hills ; and there 
The sunshine in the happy glens is fair, 
And by the sea, and in the brakes. 
The grass is cool, the sea-side air 
Buoyant and fresh, the mountain flowers 
As virginal and sweet as ours. 
And there, they say, two bright and aged snakes, 
Who once were Cadmus and Harmonia, 
Bask in the glens or on the warm sea-shore, 
In breathless quiet, after all their ills. 
Nor do they see their country, nor the place 
Where the Sphinx liv'd among the frowning hills. 
Nor the unhappy palace of their race, 
Nor Thebes, nor the Ismenus, any more. 

There those two live, far in the Illyiian brakes. 
They had staid long enough to see. 
In Thebes, the billow of calamity 


Over their own dear childi'en roird, 

Curse upon curse, pang upon pang, 

For years, they sitting helpless in their home, 

A gi-ey old man and woman : yet of old 

The gods had to their marriage come, 

And at the banquet all the Muses sang. 

Therefore they did not end their days 

In sight of blood ; but were rapt, far away, 

To where the west wind plays, 

And murmurs of the Adriatic come 

To those untrodden mountain lawns : and there 

Placed safely in chang'd forms, the Pair 

Wholly forget their first sad life, and home, 

And all that Theban woe, and stray 

For ever through the glens, placid and dumb. 


That was my harp-player again — where is he ? 
Down by the stream ? 



Yes, Master, in the wood. 


He ever lov'd the Theban story well. 
But the day wears. Go now, Pausanias, 
For I must be alone. Leave me one mule ; 
Take down with thee the rest to Catana. 
And for young Calhcles, thank him from me ; 
Tell him I never fail'd to love his lyre : 
But he must follow me no more to-night. 


Thou wilt return to-moiTOw to the city ? 


Either to-morrow or some other day, 
In the sure revolutions of the world, 
Good friend, I shall revisit Catana. 
I have seen many cities in my time 


Till my eyes ache with the long spectacle, 
And I shall doubtless see them all again : 
Thou know'st me for a wanderer from of old. 
Meanwhile, stay me not now. Farewell, Pausanias ! 

[He depaHs on his way up the mountain. 

PAUSANIAS {alone). 
I dare not urge him fm'ther ; he must go : 
But he is strangely wrought j — I will speed back 
And bring Pisianax to him from the city : 
His counsel could once soothe him. But, Apollo ! 
How his brow lighten' d as the music rose ! 
Callicles must wait here, and play to him : 
I saw him thi'ough the chestnuts far below, 
Just since, down at the stream. — Ho ! Callicles ! 

[^He descends, calling. 



Evening. The Summit of Etna. 


Alone — 
On this charr'd, blacken'd, melancholy waste, 
Crown'd by the awful peak, Etna's great mouth, 
Round which the sullen vapour rolls — alone. 
Pausanias is far hence, and that is well, 
For I must henceforth speak no more with man. 
He has his lesson too, and that debt's paid : 
And the good, learned, friendly, quiet man, 
May bravelier front his life, and in himself 
Find henceforth energy and heart : — 'but I, 
The weaiy man, the banish'd citizen. 
Whose banishment is not his gi'eatest ill. 
Whose weariness no energy can reach. 


And for whose hurt courage is not the cure — 
What should I do with life and living more ? 

No, thou art come too late, Empedocles ! 

And the world hath the day, and must break thee, 

Not thou the world. With men thou canst not live ; 

Their thoughts, their ways, their wishes, are not thine 

And being lonely thou art miserable. 

For something has impair'd thy spirit's strength, 

And di'ied its self-sufficing fount of joy. 

Thou canst not hve with men nor with thyself — 

Oh sage ! oh sage ! — Take then the one way left, 

And turn thee to the Elements, thy friends. 

Thy well-tried friends, thy willing ministers, 

And say, — Ye servants, hear Empedocles, 

Who asks this final service at your hands. 

Before the Sophist brood hath overlaid 

The last spark of man's consciousness with words — 

Ere quite the being of man, ere quite the world 

Be disarray'd of their divinity — 


Before the soul lose all her solemn joys, 
And awe be dead, and hope impossible, 
And the soul's deep eternal night come on, 
Receive me, hide me, quench me, take me home ! 

[He advances to the edge of the crater. Smoke 
and fire break forth ivith a loud noise, and 
Callicles is heard beloiv, singing : — 

The lyre's voice is lovely everywhere. 
In the court of Gods, in the city of men, 
And in the lonely rock-strewn Diountain glen, 
In the still mountain air. 

Only to Typho it sounds hatefully. 

Only to Typho, the rebel o'erthrown, 

Tlu-ough whose heart Etna diives her roots of stone, 

To imbed them in the sea. 

Wherefore dost thou groan so loud ? 
Wherefore do thy nostrils flash. 
Through the dark night, suddenly, 
Typho, such red jets of flame 1 


Is thy tortur'd heart still proud 1 

Is thy fire-scath'd arm still rash 1 ^ i - 

Still alert thy stone-crush'd frame ? 

Does thy fierce soul still deplore 

Thy ancient rout by the Ciliciau hills. 

And that curst treachery on the Mount of Gore % 

Do thy bloodshot eyes still see 

The fight that crown'd thy ills, 

Thy last defeat in this Sicilian sea ? 

Hast thou sworn, in thy sad lair, 

Where erst the strong sea-currents suck'd thee down, 

Never to cease to writhe, and try to sleep, 

Letting the sea-stream wander through thy hair % 

That thy groans, like thunder deep. 

Begin to roll, and almost di'own 

The sweet notes, whose lulling spell 

Gods and the race of mortals love so well. 

When thi'ough thy caves thou hearest music swell ? 


But an awful pleasure blaud 
Spreading o'er the Thunderer's face, 
When the sound climbs near his seat, 
The Olympian Council sees; 
As he lets his lax right hand, 
Which the lightnings doth embrace. 
Sink upon his mighty knees. 
And the eagle, at tlie beck 
Of the appeasing gracious harmony, 
Droops all his sheeny, brown, deep-feather'd neck. 
Nestling nearer to Jove's feet ; 
While o'er his sovereign eye 
The curtains of the blue films slowly meet. 
And the white Olympus peaks 
Rosily brighten, and the sooth'd Gods smile 
At one another from their golden chairs ; 
And no one round the charmed circle speaks. 
Only the lov'd Hebe bears 
The cup about, whose draughts beguile 
Pain and care, with a dark store 



Of fresh-puU'd violets wreath'd and nodding o'er ; 
And her flusli'd feet glow on the marble floor. 


He fables, yet speaks truth. 

The brave impetuous hand yields everywhere 

To the subtle, contriving head. 

Great qualities are trodden down. 

And littleness united 

Is become invincible. 

These rumblings are not Typho's groans, I know. 

These angiy smoke-bursts 

Are not the passionate breath 

Of the mountain-crush'd,tortur'd, intractable Titan king. 

But over all the world 

What suffering is there not seen 

Of plamness oppress'd by cunning, 

As the well-counsell'd Zeus oppress'd 

The self-helping son of Earth 1 

What anguish of greatness 


Rail'd and hunted from the world 
Because its simplicity rebukes 
This envious, miserable age ! 

I am weary of it ! 

Lie there, ye ensigns 

Of my unloved preeminence 

In an age like this ! 

Among a people of children, 

"Who throng'd me in their cities, 

Who worshipp'd me in their houses, 

And ask'd, not wisdom, 

But di'ugs to charm with, 

But spells to mutter — 

All the fool's-armomy of magic — Lie there. 

My golden circlet ! 

My purple robe ! 

CALLICLES (from below). 
As the sky-brightening south wind clears the day, 
And makes the mass'd clouds roll. 


The music of the Ij^re blows away 
The clouds that wrap the soul. 

Oh, that Fate had let me see 

That triumph of the sweet persuasive lyre, 

That famous, final victory 

When jealous Pan with Marsyas did conspire ; 

When, from far Parnassus' side, 
Young Apollo, all the pride 
Of the Phrygian flutes to tame, 
To the Phrygian highlands came. 
Where the long green reed-beds sway 
In the rippled waters grey 
Of that solitary lake 
W^here Mseander's springs are born. 
Where the ridg'd pine-darken'd roots 
Of Messogis westward break, 
Mounting westward, high and higher. 
There was held the famous strife ; 


There the Phrygian brought his flutes, 
And Apollo brought his lyre, 
And, when now the westering sun 
Touch'd the hills, the strife was done, 
And the attentive Muses said, 
^larsyas ! thou art vanquished. 
Then Apollo's minister 
Hang'd upon a branching fir 
Marsyas, that unhappy Faun, 
And began to whet his knife. 
But the ^Isenads, who were there. 
Left their friend, and with robes flowing 
In the wind, and loose dark hair 
O'er their polish'd bosoms blowing. 
Each her ribbon'd tambourine 
Flinging on the mountain sod, 
With a lovely frighten'd mien 
Came about the youthful God. 
But he tui'n'd his beauteous face 
Haughtily another way. 


From the grassy sun-wanu'd place, 
Where in proud repose he lay, 
With one arm over his head, 
Watching how the whetting sped. 

But aloof, on the lake strand. 

Did the young Olympus stand. 

Weeping at his master's end ; 

For the Faun had been his friend. 

For he taught him how to sing. 

And he taught him flute-playing. 

Many a morning had they gone 

To the glimmering mountain lakes, 

And had torn up by the roots 

The tall crested water reeds 

With long plumes, and soft brown seeds, 

And had carv'd them into flutes, 

Sitting on a tabled stone 

Where the shoreward ripple breaks. 

And he taught him how to please 


The red-snooded Phrygian girls, 

Whom the summer evening sees 

Flashing in the dance's whirls 

Underneath the starlit trees 

In the mountain villages. 

Therefore now Olympus stands, 

At his master's piteous cries. 

Pressing fast with both his hands 

His white garment to his eyes, 

Not to see Apollo's scorn. 

Ah, poor Faun, poor Faun ! ah, poor Faun ! 


And lie thou there. 

My laurel bough ! 

Though thou hast been my shade in the world's heat — 

Though I have lov'd thee, liv'd in honouring thee — 

Yet lie thou there, 

My laurel bough ! 

I am weary of thee. 

I am weary of the solitude 


Where he who bears thee must abide. 

Of the rocks of Parnassus, 

Of the gorge of Delphi, 

Of the moonlit peaks, and the caves. 

Thou guardest them, Apollo ! 

Over the gi-ave of the slain Pytho, 

Though young, intolerably severe. 

Thou keepest aloof the profane. 

But the solitude oppresses thy votary. 

The jars of men reach him not in thy valley — 

But can life reach him ? 

Thou fencest him from the multitude — 

AVho will fence him from himself ? 

He hears nothing but the cry of the torrents 

And the beating of his own heart. 

The air is thin, the veins swell — 

The temples tighten and throb there — 

Air ! air ! 

Take thy bough ; set me fi'ee from my solitude ! 
I have been enoua'h alone. 


Where shall thy votary fly then 1 back to men ? 
But they will gladly welcome him once more, 
And help him to unbend his too tense thought, 
And rid him of tlie presence of himself, 
And keep their friendly chatter at his ear, 
And haunt him, till the absence from himself, 
That other torment, grow unbeai'able : 
And he will fly to solitude again. 
And he will find its air too keen for him. 
And so change back : and many thousand times 
Be miserably bandied to and fro 
Like a sea wave, betwixt the world and thee, 
Thou young, implacable God ! and only death 
Shall cut his oscillations short, and so 
Bring him to poise. There is no other way. 

And yet what days were those, Parmenides ! 

When we were young, when we could number fr'iends 

In all the Italian cities like ourselves. 

When with elated hearts we join'd your train. 

Ye Sun-born virgins ! on the road of Truth. 


Then we could still enjoy, then neither thought 
Nor outward things were clos'd and dead to us, 
But we receiv'd the shock of mighty thoughts 
On simple minds with a pure natural joy ; 
And if the sacred load oppress'd our brain, 
We had the power to feel the pressure eas'd, 
The brow unbound, the thoughts flow free again, 
In the delightful commerce of the world. 
We had not lost our balance then, nor grown 
Thought's slaves, and dead to every natm-al joy. 
The smallest thing could give us pleasure then — 
The sports of the country people ; 
A flute note from the woods ; 
Sunset over the sea : 
Seed-time and harvest ; 
The reapers in the corn ; 
The vinedresser in his vineyard ; 
The village-girl at her wheel. 

Fulness of life and power of feeling, ye 
Are for the happy, for the souls at ease, 


Who dwell on a firm basis of content. 

But he who has outliv'd his prosperous days, 

But he, whose youth fell on a different world 

From that on wliich his exil'd age is thrown ; 

Whose mind was fed on other food, was train'd 

By other rules than arc in vogue to-day j 

Whose habit of thought is fix'd, who will not change, 

But in a world he loves not must subsist 

In ceaseless opposition, be the guard 

Of his OT\Ti breast, fetter'd to what he guards, 

That the world win no mastery over him ; 

Who has no friend, no fellow left, not one ; 

Who has no minute's breathing space allow'd 

To nurse his dwindling faculty of joy j — 

Joy and the outward world must die to him 

As they are dead to me. 

[A long pause, during which Empedocles 
7'emains motionless, plunged in thought . The 
night deepens. He moves forvmrd and gazes 
round him, and proceeds : — 


And you, ye Stars ! 

Who slowly begin to marshal, 

As of old, in the fields of heaven, 

Your distant, melancholy hues — 

Have you, too, surviv'd yoiu-selves ? 

Are you, too, what I fear to become 1 

You too once liv'd — 

You too mov'd joyfully 

Among august companions 

In an older world, peopled by Gods, 

In a mightier order, 

The radiant, rejoicing, intelligent Sons of Heaven ! 

But now, you kindle 

Your lonely, cold-shining lights, 

Unwilling lingerers 

In the heavenly wilderness. 

For a younger, ignoble world. 

And renew, by necessity. 

Night after night your courses. 

In echoing unnear'd silence. 


Above a race you know not. 
Uncaring and undclighted, 
Without friend and without home. 
Weary like us, though not 
Weary with our weariness. 

No, no, ye Stai's ! there is no death with you, 
No languor, no decay ! Languor and death, 
They are with me, not you ! ye are alive ! 
Ye and the pure dark ether where ye ride 
BrilUant above me ! And thou, fiery world ! 
That sapp'st the vitals of this terrible mount 
Upon whose charr'd and quaking crust I stand, 
Thou, too, brimmest with life ; — the sea of cloud 
That heaves its white and billowy vapours up 
To moat this isle of ashes from the world, 
Lives ; — and that other fainter sea, far down, 
O'er wiiose lit floor a road of moonbeams leads 
To Etna's Liparean sister fires 
And the long dusky line of Italy — 


That mild and luminous floor of waters lives, 

With held-in joy swelhng its heart : — I only, 

Whose spring of hope is diied, whose spirit has fail'd — 

I, who have not, like these, in solitude 

Maintain' d courage and force, and in myself 

Nui's'd an immortal vigour- — I alone 

Am dead to hfe and joy ; therefore I read 

In all things my own deadness. 

[A long silence. He continues : — 

Oh, that I could glow like this mountain ! 
Oh, that my heart bounded with the swell of the sea ! 
Oh, that my soul were full of light as the stars 1 
Oh, that it brooded over the world like the air ! 

But no, this heart will glow no more : thou art 
A hving man no more, Empedocles ! 
Nothing but a devouring flame of thought — 
But a naked, eternally restless mind. 


[AJier a ;;a2«5P ; — 

To the elements it came from 
Everything will return. 
Our bodies to Earth ; 
Our blood to Water ; 
Heat to Fire ; 
Breath to Air. 

They were well born, they will be well entomb'd. 
But Mind !— 

And we might gladly share the fruitful stir 

Down in oui' mother Earth's miraculous womb. 

Well would it be 

With what roll'd of us in the stormy deep. 

We should have joy, blent with the all-bathing Air. 

Or with the active radiant life of Fire. 

But Mind— but Thought— 

If these have been the master part of us — 

Where will thei/ find their parent element ? 


What will receive them, who will call them home ? 

But we shall still be in them, and they in us, 

And we shall be the strangers of the world. 

And they will be our lords, as they are now ; 

And keep us prisoners of our consciousness. 

And never let us clasp and feel the All 

But thi'ough thek forms, and modes, and stifling veils. 

And we shall be unsatisfied as now, 

And we shall feel the agony of thirst, 

The ineffable longing for the life of life 

Baffled for ever : and still Thought and Mind 

AVill hurry us with them on their homeless march, 

Over the unallied unopening Earth, 

Over the unrecognising Sea : while Air 

Will blow us fiercely back to Sea and Earth, 

And Fire repel us fi'om its living waves. 

And then we shall imwillingly return 

Back to this meadow of calamity. 

This uncongenial place, this human life. 

And in our individual human state 


Go through the sad probation all again, 

To see if we will poise our life at last, 

To see if we will now at last be true 

To oui' own only true deep-buried selves, 

Being one with which we are one with the whole world ; 

Or whether we will once more fall away 

Into some bondage of the flesh or mind, 

Some slough of sense, or some fantastic maze 

Forg'd by the imperious lonely Thinking-Power. 

And each succeeding age in which we are bom 

Will have more peril for us than the last ; 

Will goad om' senses with a sharper spur. 

Will fret our minds to an intenser play. 

Will make ourselves harder to be discem'd. 

And we shall struggle awhile, gasp and rebel : 

And we shall fly for refuge to past times. 

Their soul of unworn youth, their breath of greatness ; 

And the reality will pluck us back, 

Knead us in its hot hand, and change our nature. 

And we shall feel our powers of eff'ort flag, 


And rally them for one last fight — and fail. 
And we shall sink in the impossible strife, 
And be astray for ever. 

Slave of Sense 
I have in no wise been : but slave of Thought ? — 

And who can say, — I have been always free. 
Liv'd ever in the light of my own soul ? — 
I cannot : I have liv'd in wrath and gloom, 
Fierce, disputatious, ever at war with man, 
Far from my own soul, far from warmth and light. 
But I have not grown easy in these bonds — 
But I have not denied what bonds these were. 
Yea, I take myself to witness. 
That I have lov'd no darkness. 
Sophisticated no truth, 
Nurs'd no delusion, 
AUow'd no fear. 

And therefore, ye Elements, I know — 
Ye know it too — it hath been granted me 


Not to die wholly, not to be all euslav'd. 
I feel it in this hour. The numbing cloud 
Mounts off my soul : I feel it, I breathe free. 

Is it but for a moment ? 

Ah ! boil up, ye vapom's ! 

Leap and roar, thou Sea of Fire ! 

My soul glows to meet you. 

Ere it flag, ere the mists 

Of despondency and gloom 

Rush over it again, 

Receive me ! Save me ! [He plunges into the crater. 

CALLICLES [from helow). 

Through the black, rushing smoke-bursts, 
Thick breaks the red flame. 
All Etna heaves fiercely 
Her forest-cloth'd frame. 


Not here, Apollo ! 
Are haunts meet for thee. 
But, where Hehcon breaks down 
In cliff to the sea. 

Where the moon-silver'd inlets 
Send far their light voice 
Up the still vale of Thisbe, 
speed, and rejoice ! 

On the sward, at the cliff-top, 
Lie strewn the white flocks ; 
On the cliff-side, the pigeons 
Roost deep in the rocks. 

In the moonlight the shepherds, 
Soft lull'd by the riUs, 
Lie wrapt in their blankets, 
Asleep on the hills. 


— What Forms are these coming 
So white through the gloom 1 
What garments out-glistening 
The gold-flower'd broom ? 

What sweet-breathing Presence 
Out-perfumes the thyme 1 
What voices enrapture 
The night's balmy prime ? — 

'Tis Apollo comes leading 
His choir, The Nine. 
— The Leader is fairest, 
But all are divine. 

They are lost in the hollows. 
They stream up again. 
What seeks on this mountain 
The glorified train ? — 


They bathe on this mountain, 
In the spring by their road. 
Then on to Olympus, 
Their endless abode. 

— Whose praise do they mention 
Of what is it told?— 
What will be for ever. 
What was fi'om of old. 

First hymn they the Father 
Of all things : and then 
The rest of Immortals, 
The action of men. 

The Day in its hotness. 
The strife with the palm ; 
The Night in its silence. 
The Stars in their calm. 




Still glides the stream, slow drops the boat 

Under the rustling poplars' shade ; 

Silent the swans beside us float : 

None speaks, none heeds — ah, turn thy head. 

Let those arch eyes now softly shine. 
That mocking mouth grow sweetly bland : 
Ah, let them rest, those eyes, on mine ; 
On mine let rest that lovely hand. 

My pent up tears oppress my brain, 
My heart is swoln with love unsaid : 
Ah, let me weep, and tell my pain, 
And on thy shoulder rest my head. 


Before I die, before the soul, 
Which now is mine, must re-attain 
Immunity from my control, 
And wander round the world again : 

Before this teas'd o'er-labour'd heart 
For ever leaves its vain employ, 
Dead to its deep habitual smart, 
And dead to hopes of future joy. 


I TOO have suffer'd: yet I know 
She is not cold, though she seems so • 
She is not cold, she is not light ; 
But our ignoble souls lack might. 

She smiles and smiles, and will not sigh, 
While we for hopeless passion die ; 
Yet she could love, those eyes declare. 
Were but men nobler than they are. 

Eagerly once her gracious ken 

Was turn'd upon the sons of men. 

But light the serious visage grew — 

She look'd, and smiled, and saw them through. 


Our petty souls, our strutting wits, 
Our labour'd puny passion-fits — 
Ah, may she scorn them still, till we 
Scorn them as bitterly as she ! 

Yet oh, that Fate would let her see 
One of some better race than we ; 
One for whose sake she once might prove 
How deeply she who scorns can love. 

His eyes be hke the starry lights — 
His voice like sounds of summer nights— 
In all his lovely mien let pierce 
The magic of the universe. 

And she to him will reach her hand. 
And gazing in his eyes will stand, 
And know her fiiend, and weep for glee. 
And cry — Long, long I've look'd for thee. 


Tlien will she weep — with smiles, till then, 
Coldly she mocks the sons of men. 
Till then her lovely eyes maintain 
Their gay, unwavering, deep disdain. 



I MUST not say that thou wert true, 
Yet let me say that thou wert fair. 
Aud they that lovely face who view, 
They will not ask if truth be there. 

Truth — what is truth 1 Two bleeding hearts 
Wounded by men, by Fortune tried, 
Outwearied with their lonely parts. 
Vow to beat henceforth side by side. 

The world to them was stem and drear ; 
Their lot was but to weep and moan. 
All, let them keep tlieir faith sincere. 
For neither could subsist alone ! 


But souls w]iom some benignant breath 
Has charm'd at birth from gloom and care, 
These ask no love — these plight no faith, 
For they are hai)py as they are. 

The world to them may homage make, 
And garlands for their forehead weave. 
And what the world can give, they take : 
But they bring more than they receive. 

They smile upon the world : their ears 
To one demand alone are coy. 
They will not give us love and tears — 
They bring us light, and warmth, and joy. 

It was not love that heav'd thy breast, 
Fan- child ! it was the bliss within. 
Adieu ! and say that one, at least, 
Was just to what he did not win. 



Each on his own strict line we move, 
And some find death ere they find love : 
So far apart their lives are thrown 
From the twin soul that halves their own. 

And sometimes, by still harder fate, 

The lovers meet, but meet too late. 

— Thy heart is mine ! — True, true ! ah true !- 

Then, love, thy hand ! — Ah no ! adieu ! 



Vain is the effort to forget. 
Some day I shall be cold, I know, 
As is the eternal moonlit snow 
Of the high Alps, to which I go : 
But ah, not yet ! not yet ! 

Vain is the agony of grief 
'Tis true, indeed, an iron knot 
Ties straitly up from mine thy lot, 
And were it snapt — thou lov'st me not 
But is despair relief? 

82 ox THE RHINE. 

Awhile let me with thought have done. 
And as this brimm'd unwiinkled Rhine 
And that far pm-ple mountain line 
Lie sweetly in the look divine 
Of the slow-sinking sun ; 

So let me lie, and calm as they 
Let beam upon my inward view 
Those eyes of deep, soft, lucent hue — 
Eyes too expressive to be blue, 
Too lovely to be grey. 

Ah, Quiet, all things feel thy balm ! 
Those blue hills too, this river's flow, 
Were restless once, but long ago. 
Tam'd is their turbulent youthful glow 
Their joy is in their calm. 



Come to me in my dreams, and then 
By day I shall be well again. 
For then the night will more than pay 
The hopeless longing of the day. 

Come, as thou cam'st a thousand times 
A messenger from radiant cHmes, 
And smile on thy new world, and be 
As kind to all the rest as me. 

Or, as thou never cam'st in sooth, 
Come now, and let me di^eam it truth. 
And part my hair, and kiss my brow. 
And say— My love ! why sufiferest thou ? 


Come to me in my dreams, and then 
By day 1 shall be well again. 
For then the mght vnll more than pay 
The hopeless longing of the day. 



Again I see my bliss at hand ; 

The town, the lake are here. 

My Marguerite smiles upon the strand 

Unalter'd with the year. 

I know that graceful figure fair, 
That cheek of languid hue ; 
I know that soft enkerchief 'd hair, 
And those sweet eyes of blue. 

Again I spring to make my choice ; 
Again in tones of ire 
I hear a God's tremendous voice — 
" Be counsell'd, and retire ! " 


Ye guiding Powers, who join and part, 
What would ye have with me ? 
Ah, warn some more ambitious heart, 
And let the peaceful be ! 



Ye storm-winds of Autumn 
Who rush by, who shake 
The window, and ruffle 
The gleam-lighted lake ; 
Who cross to the hill-side 
Thin-sprinkled with farms, 
Where the high woods strip sadly 
Their yellowing arms ; — 

Ye are bound for the mountains — 
Ah, with you let me go 
Where your cold distant barrier, 
The vast range of snow. 
Through the loose clouds lifts dimly 
Its white peaks in air — 
How deep is their stillness ! 
Ah ! would I were there ! 


But on the stairs what voice is this I hear, 
Buoyant as morning, and as morning clear ? 
Say, has some wet bird-haunted Enghsh lawn 
Lent it the music of its trees at dawn 1 
Or was it from some sun-fleck'd mountain-brook 
That the sweet voice its upland clearness took 1 

Ah ! it comes nearer — 

Sweet notes, this way ! 

Hark ! fast by the window 
The rushing winds go. 
To the ice-cumber'd gorges, 
The vast seas of snow. 
There the toiTents drive upward 
Their rock-strangled hum. 
There the avalanche thunders 
The hoarse torrent dumb. 
— I come, ye mountains ! 
Ye torrents, I come ! 

But who is this, by the half-open'd door. 


Whose figure casts a shadow on the floor 1 
The sweet bhie eyes — the soft, ash-colour'd hair — 
The cheeks that still their gentle paleness wear — 
The lovely lips, with their arch smile, that tells 
The unconquer'd joy in which her spirit dwells — 

Ah ! they bend nearer — 

Sweet lips, this way ! 

Hark ! the ^\^nd i-ushes past us — 

Ah ! with that let me go 

To the clear waning hill- side 

Unspotted by snow, 

There to watch, o'er the sunk vale, 

The frore mountain wall, 

Where the nich'd snow-bed sprays down 

Its powdery fall. 

There its dusky blue clusters 

The aconite spreads ; 

There the pines slope, the cloud-strips 

Hung soft in their heads. 


No life but, at moments, 
The momitaiii-bee's hum. 
— I come, ye mountains ! 
Ye pine-woods, I come ! 

Forgive me ! forgive me ! 

Ah, Marguerite, fain 

Would these arms reach to clasp thee 

But see ! 'tis in vain. 

In the void air towards thee 
My strain'd arms ai'e cast. 
But a sea rolls between us — 
Our different past. 

To the lips, ah ! of others, 
Those lips have been prest. 
And others, ere I was, 
AVere clasp'd to that breast ; 


Far, far from each other 
Our spirits have grown. 
And what heart knows another ? 
Ah ! who knows his own ? 

Blow, ye winds ! hft me with you ! 
I come to the wild. 
Fold closely, Nature ! 
Thine arms round thy child. 

To thee only God granted 
A heart ever new : 
To all always open ; 
To all always true. 

Ah, calm me ! restore me ! 
And dry up my tears 
On thy high mountain platforms, 
Where Morn first appears, 


Where the white mists, for ever, 
Are spread and upfurl'd ; 
In the stir of the forces 
Whence issued the world. 


In this fair stranger's eyes of grey 
Thine eyes, my love, I see. 
I shudder : for the passing day 
Had borne me far from thee. 

This is the curse of Ufe : that not 
A nobler calmer train 
Of wiser thoughts and feelings blot 
Our passions from our brain ; 

But each day brings its petty dust 
Our soon-chok'd souls to fill, 
And we forget because we must, 
And not because we will. 


I struggle towards the light ; and ye, 
Once long'd-for storms of love ! 
If with the Hght ye cannot be, 
I bear that ye remove. 

I struggle towards the light ; but oh, 
While yet the night is chill, 
Upon Time's barren, stormy flow, 
Stay with me, Marguerite, still ! 



Why each is striving, from of old, 
To love more deeply than he can ? 
Still would be true, yet still grows cold 1 
— Ask of the Powers that sport with man ! 

They yok'd in him, for endless strife, 
A heart of ice, a soul of fire ; 
And hurl'd him on the Field of Life, 
An aimless unallay'd Desire. 




Yes : in the sea of life enisl'd, 
With echoing straits between us thrown, 
Dotting the shoreless watery wild, 
We mortal millions live alone. 

The islands feel the enclasping flow, 
And then their endless bounds they know. 

But when the moon their hollows lights 
And they are swept by balms of spring, 
And in their glens, on starry nights, 
The nightingales divinely sing, 
And lovely notes, from shore to shore. 
Across the sounds and channels pour ; 


Oh then a longing Hke despair 

Is to their farthest caverns sent ; 

— For sm-ely once, they feel, we were 

Palis of a single continent. 

Now round us spreads the watery plain- 

Oh might our marges meet again ! 

Who order'd, that their longing's fire 
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd ? 
Who renders vain their deep desu'e 1 

A God, a God their severance rul'd ; 
And bade betwixt their shores to be 
The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea. 



What mortal, when he saw, 

Life's voyage done, his Heavenly Friend, 

Could ever yet dare tell him fearlessly, 

" I have kept nninfring'd my natm-e's law. 

The inly-written chart thou gavest me 

To guide me, I have steer'd by to the end ?" 

Ah ! let us make no claim 

On life's incognizable sea 

To too exact a steering of our way. 

Let us not fret and fear to miss our aim 

If some fair coast has lur'd us to make stay. 

Or some friend hail'd us to keep company. 


Ay, we would each fain diive 
At random, and not steer by nile. 
Weakness ! and worse, weakness bestow'd in vain ! 
Winds from our side the unsuiting consort rive : 
We rush by coasts where we had lief remain. 
Man cannot, though he would, live Chance's fool. 

No ! as the foaming swathe 

Of torn-up water, on the main, 

Falls heavily away with long-drawn roar 

On either side the black deep-furrow'd path 

Cut by an onward-labouring vessel's prore. 

And never touches the ship- side again ; 

Even so we leave behind, 
As, charter'd by some unknown Powers, 
We stem across the sea of life by night, 
The joys which were not for our use design'd. 
The friends to whom we had no natural right : 
The homes that were not destin'd to be ours. 



The thoughts that rain their steady glow 
Like stars on life's cold sea, 
Which others know, or say they know — 
They never shone for me. 

Thoughts light, like gleams, my spirit's sky. 
But they will not remain ; 
They light me once, they huiTy by, 
And never come again. 



When I shall be divorc'd, some ten years hence, 
From this poor present self which I am now ; 
When youth has done its tedious vain expense 
Of passions that for ever ebb and flow ; 
Shall I not joy youth's heats are left behind, 
And breathe more happy in an even clime ? 
Ah no, for then I shall begin to find 
A thousand virtues in this hated time. 
Then I shall wish its agitations back, 
And all its thwarting currents of desire ; 
Then I shall praise the heat which then I lack. 
And call this hurrying fever, generous fire. 
And sigh that one thing only has been lent 
To youth and age in common — discontent. 



Say, what blinds us, that we claim the glory 
Of possessing powers not our share ? — 
Since man woke on earth, he knows his story, 
But, before we woke on earth, we were. 

Long, long since, undower'd yet, oiu' spirit 
Roam'd, ere birth, the treasmies of God : 
Saw the gifts, the powers it might inherit ; 
Ask'd an outfit for its earthly road. 

Then, as now, this tremulous, eager being 
Sti-ain'd, and long'd, and gi-asp'd each gift it saw. 
Then, as now, a Power beyond our seeing 
Stav'd us back, and gave our choice the law. 


Ah, whose hand that day through heaven guided 
Man's new spirit, since it was not we 1 
Ah, who sway'd our choice, and who decided 
What the parts, and what the whole should be ? 

For, alas ! he left us each retaining 

Shreds of gifts which he refus'd in ftill. 

Still these waste ns with their hopeless straining — 

Still the attempt to use them proves them null. 

And on eailh we wander, groping, reeling ; 
Powers stir in us, stir and disappear. 
Ah, and he, who placed our master-feeling, 
Fail'd to place that master-feeling clear. 

We but dream we have our wish'd-for powers. 
Ends we seek we never shall attain. 
Ah, soine power exists there, which is oiu^ 1 
Some end is there, we indeed may gain ? 



Yes, now the longing is o'erpast, 

Which, dogg'd by fear and fought by shame, 

Shook her weak bosom day and night, 

Consum'd her beauty like a flame, 

And dimm'd it like the desert blast. 

And though the curtains hide her face. 

Yet were it lifted to the light 

The sweet expression of her brow 

Would charm the gazer, till his thought 

Eras'd the ravages of time, 

Fill'd up the hollow cheek, and brought 

A freshness back as of her prime — 

So healing is her quiet now. 

So perfectly the lines express 


A placid, settled loveliness ; 

Her youngest rival's freshest grace. 

But ah, though peace indeed is here, 
And ease from shame, and rest fr'om fear ; 
Though nothing can dismarble now 
The smoothness of that limpid brow ; 
Yet is a calm like this, in tnith. 
The crowning end of life and youth 1 
And when this boon rewards the dead, 
Are all debts paid, has all been said ? 
And is the heart of youth so light. 
Its step so firm, its eye so bright, 
Because on its hot brow there blows 
A wind of promise and repose 
From the far gi-ave, to which it goes 1 
Because it has the hope to come. 
One day, to harbour in the tomb 1 
Ah no, the bliss youth di*eams is one 
For daylight, for the cheerful sun, 


For feeling nerves and living breath — 

Youth dreams a bliss on this side death. 

It dreams a rest, if not more deep, 

More gi-ateftd than this marble sleep. 

It hears a voice within it teU — 

"Calm's not Hfe's crown, though calm is well." 

'Tis all perhaps which man acquires : 

But 'tis not what our youth desires. 








Is she not come 1 The messenger was sure. 
Prop me upon the pillows once again — 
Raise me, my page : this cannot long endure. 
Christ ! what a night ! how the sleet whips the pane ! 
What lights will those out to the northward be ? 


The lanterns of the fishing-boats at sea. 


Soft — who is that stands by the dying fire ? 





Ah ! not the Iseult I desire. 

What knight is this, so weak and pale, 

Though the locks ai'e yet brown on his noble head, 

Propt on pillows in his bed, 

Gazing seawards for the light 

Of some ship that fights the gale 

On this wild December night 1 

Over the sick man's feet is spread 

A dark green forest dress. 

A gold hai-p leans against the bed. 

Ruddy in the fire's light. 

I know him by his harp of gold, 
Famous in Arthur's court of old : 
I know him by his forest dress. 


The peerless hunter, harper, knight — 
Tristram of Lyoness. 

What lady is this whose silk attire 
Gleams so rich in the light of the fire ? 
Never surely has been seen 
So slight a fonn in so rich a dress. 
The ringlets on her shouldei-s lying 
In their flitting lustre vying 
With the clasp of bumish'd gold 
Which her heavy robe doth hold. 
But her cheeks ai'e sunk and pale. 

Is it that the bleak sea-gale 
Beating fi'om the Atlantic sea 
On tliis coast of Brittany, 
Nips too keenly the sweet flower 1 

Is it that a deep fatigue 
Hath come on her, a chilly fear. 
Passing all her youthful hour 
Spinning with her maidens here, 


Listlessly through the window bars 
Gazing seawards many a league 
From her lonely shore-built tower, 
While the knights are at the wars 1 

Or, perhaps, has her young heart 
Felt ah-eady some deeper smart, 
Of those that in secret the heart-strings rive, 
Leaving her sunk and pale, though fair 1 

Who is this snowdi'op by the sea ? 
I know her by her golden hair, 
I know her by her rich silk dress 
And her fragile loveliness. 
The sweetest Christian soul alive, 
Iseult of Brittany. 

Loud howls the wind, sharp patters the rain, ' 
And the knight sinks back on his pillows again. 
He is weak with fever and pain, 
And his sphit is not clear. 
Hark ! he mutters in his sleep, 


As he wanders far from here, 
Changes place and time of year, 
And his closed eye doth sweep 
O'er some fair unwintry sea, 
Not this fierce Atlantic deep. 
As he mutters brokenly — 


The calm sea shines, loose hang the vessel's sails — 

Before us are the sweet green fields of Wales, 

And overhead the cloudless sky of May. — 

" Ah, would I were in those green fields at play. 

Not pent on ship-board this deHcious day. 

Tristram, I pray thee, of thy courtesy, 

Reach me my golden cup that stands by thee, 

And pledge me in it first for courtesy. — " 

— Ha ! dost thou start ? are thy lips blanch'd like mine ? 

Child, 'tis no water this, 'tis poison'd wine. — 

Iseultl .... 



Ah, sweet angels, let him di'eam 
Keep his eyelids ! let him seem 
Not this fever-wasted wight 
Thiun'd and pal'd before his time. 
But the brilliant youthful knight 
In the glory of his prime. 
Sitting in the gilded barge. 
At thy side, thou lovely charge ! 
Bending gaily o'er thy hand, 
Iseult of Ireland ! 
And she too, that princess fair, 
If her bloom be now less rare. 
Let her have her youth again — 

Let her be as she was then ! 
Let her have her proud dark eyes, 
And her petulant quick replies, 
Let her sweep her dazzling hand 
With its gesture of command. 
And shake back her raven hair 
With the old imperious air. 


As of old, SO let her be, 

That first Iseult, princess bright, 

Chatting with her youtliful knight 

As he steers her o'er the sea. 

Quitting at her father's will 

The gi'een isle where she was bred, ' ' 

And her bower in Ireland, 
For the surge-beat Cornish strand, 
Where the prince whom she must wed 
Keeps his court in Tyntagil, 
Fast beside the sounding sea. 
And that golden cup her mother 
Gave her, that her lord and she 
Might drink it on their marriage day. 
And for ever love each other, 

Let her, as she sits on board. 
Ah, sweet saints, unwittingly. 
See it shine, and take it up, 
And to Tristram lauo-hino^ sav — 
"Sir Tristram, of thy comtesy 


Pledge me in my golden cup ! " 
Let them drink it — let their hands 
Tremble, and their cheeks be flame, 
As they feel the fatal bands 
Of a love they dare not name 
With a wild delicious pain 

Twine about their hearts again. 
Let the early summer be 
Once more round them, and the sea 
Blue, and o'er its mirror kind 
Let the breath of the May wind. 
Wandering through their drooping sails. 

Die on the green fields of Wales. 
Let a dream like this restore 
AVhat his eye must see no more. 


Chill blows the wind, the pleasaunce walks are drear. 
Madcap, what jest was this, to meet me here 


Were feet like those made for so wild a way ? 

The southern wiuter-parlour, by my fay, 

Had been the UkeUest trysting-place to-day. 

' Tristram ! — nay, nay — thou must not take my hand — 

Tristram — sweet love — we are betray 'd — out-planu'd. 

Fly — save thyself — save me. I dare not stay," — 

One last kiss first ! — "'Tis vain — to horse — away !" 

Ah, sweet saints, his dream doth move - H^ 

Faster surely than it should, 

From the fever in his blood. 

All the spring-time of his love 

Is already gone and past, 

And instead thereof is seen 

Its winter, which endm^eth still — 

The palace towers of Tyntagil, 

The pleasaunce walks, the weeping queen, 

The flying leaves, the straining blast. 

And that long, wild kiss — their last. 

And this rough December night 


And his burning fever pain 

Mingle with his hurrying dream 

Till they rule it, till he seem 

The press'd fugitive again, 

The love-desperate banish'd knight 

With a fire in his brain 

Flying o'er the stormy main. 

Whither does he wander now 1 
Haply in his dreams the wind 
Wafts him here, and lets him find 
The lovely orphan child again 
In her castle by the coast, 
The youngest, fairest chatelaine. 
That this realm of France can boast, 

Our snowdrop by the Atlantic sea, 
Iseult of Brittany. 
And — for through the haggard air, 
The stain'd arms, the matted hair 
Of that stranger knight ill-starr'd, 
There gleam'd something that recall'd 


The Tristmm who in better days 

Was Launcelot's guest at Joyous Gard — 

Welconi'd liere, and here iustall'd, 

Tended of his fever here, 

Haply he seems again to move 

His young guardian's heart with love ; 

In his exil'd loneliness, 
In his stately deep distress, 
Without a word, without a tear. — 
Ah, 'tis well he should retrace 

His tranquil life in this lone place ; 

His gentle bearing at the side 

Of his timid youthful bride ; 

His long rambles by the shore 

C)n winter evenings, when the roar 

Of the near waves came, sadly gi\and, 

Through the dark, up the drown'd sand : 
Or his endless reveries 

In the woods, where the gleams play 

On the gi'ass under the trees, 


Passing the long summer's day 

Idle as a mossy stone 

In the forest depths alone ; 

The chase neglected, and his hound 

Couch'd beside him on the ground. — 

Ah, what trouble 's on his brow ? 
Hither let him wander now, 
Hither, to the quiet hours 
Pass'd among these heaths of ours 
By the grey Atlantic sea. 

Hours, if not of ecstasy. 
From violent anguish surely free. 


All red with blood the whirling river flows, 

The wide plain rings, the daz'd air throbs with blows. 

Upon us are the chivalry of Rome — 

Their spears are down, their steeds are bath'd in foam. 

" Up, Tristram, up," men cry, "thou moonstruck knight ! 


What foul fiend rides thee 1 On into the fight ! " 
— Above the din her voice is in my eai-s — 
I see her form glide through the crossing spears. — 
Iseult ! . . . . 

Ah, he wanders forth again ; 

We cannot keep him ; now as then 

There 's a secret in his breast 

That will never let him rest. 
These musing fits in the gi'een wood 
They cloud the brain, they dull the blood. 

His sword is sharp — his horse is good — 
Beyond the mountains will he see 
The famous towns of Italy, 
And label wdth the blessed sign 
The heathen Saxons on the Ehine. 
At Arthur's side he fights once more 
With the Roman Emperor. 
There 's many a gay knight where he goes 


Will help him to forget his care. 

The march — the leaguer — Heaven's blithe air- 

The neighing steeds — the ringing blows ; 

Sick pining comes not where these are. 
Ah, what boots it, that the jest 
Lightens every other brow, 
What, that every other breast 
Dances as the trumpets blow. 
If one's own heart beats not light 
In the waves of the toss'd fight, 
If oneself cannot get free 
From the clog of misery 1 

Thy lovely youthful wife gTows pale 
Watching by the salt sea tide 
With her children at her side 
For the gleam of thy white sail. 
Home, Tristram, to thy halls again ! 
To our lonely sea complain. 

To our forests tell thy pain. 



All round the forest sweeps off, black in shade, 
But it is moonlight in the open glade : 
And in the bottom of the glade shine clear 
The forest chapel and the fountain near. 

I think, I have a fever in my blood : 
Come, let me leave the shadow of this wood, 
Ride down, and bathe my hot brow in the flood. 

Mild shines the cold spring in the moon's clear light. 
God ! 'tis her face plays in the waters bright. 
" Fair love," she says, " canst thou forget so soon, 
At this soft hour, under this sweet moon 1 " 
Iseult! .... 

Ah poor soul, if this be so, 
Only death can balm thy woe. 
The solitudes of the green wood 
Had no medicine for thy mood. 


The rushing battle clear'd thy blood 
As little as did solitude. 

Ah^ his eyelids slowly break 
Theii' hot seals, and let him wake. 
"What new change shall we now see ? 

A happier ? Worse it cannot be. 


Is my page here ? Come, turn me to the fire. 
Upon the window panes the moon shines bright ; 
The wind is down : but she '11 not come to-night. 
Ah no — she is asleep in Tyntagil 
Far hence — her dreams are fair — her sleep is still. 
Of me she recks not, nor of my desire. 

I have had dreams, I have had dreams, my page. 
Would take a score years from a strong man's age. 
And with a blood like mine, vdW leave, I fear. 
Scant leisure for a second messenger. 

My princess, art thou there ? Sweet, 'tis too late. 


To bed, and sleep : my fever is gone by : 
To-night my page shall keep me company. 
Where do the children sleep 1 kiss them for me. 
Poor child, thou art almost as pale as I : 
This comes of nursing long and watching late. 
To l3ed — good night ! 

She left the gleam-lit fire-place, 

She came to the bed-side. 
She took his hands in hers : her tears 
Down on her slender fingers rain'd. 
She rais'd her eyes upon his face — 
Not with a look of wounded pride, 
A look as if the heart complain'd : — 

Her look was like a sad embrace ; 
The gaze of one who can divine 
A gi'ief, and sympathise. 
Sweet flower, thy childi'en's eyes 

Are not more innocent than thine. 


But they sleep in shelter'd rest, 
Like helpless birds in the wai'm nest, 
On the castle's southern side ; 
Where feebly comes the mournful roar 
Of buffeting wind and surging tide 
Through many a room and comdor. 
Full on their window the moon's ray 
Makes their chamber as bright as day ; 
It shines upon the blank white walls, 
And on the snowy pillow falls, 
And on two angel-heads doth play 
Tum'd to each other : — the eyes clos'd — 

The lashes on the cheeks repos'd. 
Round each sweet brow the cap close-set 
Hardly lets peep the golden hair ; 
Through the soft-open'd lips the air 
Scarcely moves the coverlet. 
One little wandering arm is thrown 
At random on the counterpane, 
And often the fingers close in haste 


As if their baby owner chas'd 
The butterflies again. 
This stir they have and this alone ; 
But else they are so still. 

Ah, tired madcaps, you lie still. 
But were you at the window now 
To look forth on the fairy sight 
Of your illumin'd haunts by night ; 
To see the park-glades where you play 
Far lovelier than they are by day ; 
To see the sparkle on the eaves, 
And upon every giant bough 
Of those old oaks, whose wet red leaves 
Are jewell'd w^ith bright drops of rain — 

How would your voices run again ! 
And far beyond the sparkling trees 
Of the castle park one sees 
The bare heaths spreading, clear as day, 
Moor behind moor, far, far away. 
Into the heart of Brittany. 


And here and there, lock'd by the land, 
Long inlets of smooth ghttering sea, 
And many a stretch of watery sand 
All shining in the white moon-beams. 
But you see fairer in your di'eams. 

What voices are these on the clear night air ? 
What lights in the court ? what steps on the stair ? 



iJsEuIt of illrclantr. 


Raise the light, mj' page, that I may see her. — 
Thou art come at last then, haughty Queen ! 
Long I've waited, long I've fought my fever : 
Late thou comest, ciTiel thou hast been, 


Blame me not, poor sufferer, that I tamed ; 
I was bound, I could not break the band. 
Chide not with the past, but feel the present : 
I am here — we meet — I hold thy hand. 




Thou art come, indeed — thou hast rejoin'd me ; 
Thou hast dar'd it : but too late to save. 
Fear not now that men should tax thy honoiir. 
I am dying : build — (thou may'st) — my grave ! 


Tristram, for the love of Heaven, speak kindly ! 
What, I hear these bitter words from thee ? 
Sick with grief I am, and faint with travel — 
Take my hand — dear Tristram, look on me ! 


I forgot, thou comest from thy voyage. 

Yes, the spray is on thy cloak and hair. 

But thy dark eyes are not dimm'd, proud Iseult ! 

And thy beauty never was more fair. 



Ah, harsh flatterer ! let alone my beauty. 

I, like thee, have left my youth afar. 

Take my hand, and touch these wasted fingers — 

See my cheek and lips, how white they are. 


Thou art paler : — but thy sweet charm, Iseult ! 
Would not fade with the dull years away. 
Ah, how fair thou standest in the moonlight ! 
I forgive thee, Iseult ! — thou wilt stay ? 


Fear me not, I will be always with thee ; 
I will watch thee, tend thee, soothe thy pain ; 
Sing thee tales of true long-parted lovers 
Join'd at evening of their days again. 



No, thou slialt not speak; I should be finding 
Something alter'd in thy courtly tone. 
Sit — sit by me : I will think, we've liv'd so 
In the greenwood, all our lives, alone. 


Alter'd, Tristram ? Not in coui'ts, believe me, 
Love like mine is alter'd in the breast. 
Courtly life is light and cannot reach it. 
Ah, it lives, because so deep suppress'd. 

What, thou think'st, men speak in com'tly chambers 
Words by which the wretched are consol'd ? 
What, thou think'st, this aching brow was cooler. 
Circled, Tristram, by a band of gold ? 

Ah, on which, if both our lots were balanc'd, 
Was indeed the heaviest burden thrown, 
Thee, a weeping exile in thy forest — 
Me, a smiling queen upon my throne 1 


Vain and strange debate, where both have suffer'd ; 
Both have pass d a youth constrain'd and sad ; 
Both have brought their anxious day to evening, 
And have now short space for being glad. 

Join'd we are henceforth : nor will thy people 
Nor thy younger Iseult take it ill 
That an ancient rival shares her office, 
When she sees her humbled, pale, and still. 

I, a faded watcher by thy pillow, 

I, a statue on thy chapel floor, 

Pour'd in grief before the Virgin Mother, 

Rouse no anger, make no rivals more. 

She will say — " Is this the form I dreaded 1 
This his idol ? this that royal bride ? 
Ah, an hour of health would purge his eyesight •. 
Stay, pale queen ! for ever by my side." 


Hush, no words ! that smile, I see, forgives me. 
I am now thy nurse, I bid thee sleep. 
Close thine eyes — this flooding moonlight blinds them- 
Nay, all 's well again : thou must not weep. 


I am happy : yet T feel, there 's something 
Swells my heart, and takes my breath away : 
Through a mist I see thee : near ! — come nearer ! 
Bend — bend down — I yet have much to say. 


Heaven ! his head sinks back upon the pillow ! — 
Tristram ! Tristram ! let thy heart not fail. 
Call on God and on the holy angels ! 
What, love, courage ! — Christ ! he is so pale. . 



Hush, tis vain, I feel my end approaching. 
This is what my mother said should be, 
When the fierce pains took her in the forest, 
The deep draughts of death, in bearing me. 

" Son," she said, " thy name shall be of sorrow ! 
Tristram ai't thou call'd for my death's sake ! " 
So she said, and died in the drear forest. 
Grief since then his home with me doth make. 

I am dying. — Start not, nor look wildly ! 
Me, thy li\dng friend, thou canst not save. 
But, since living we were ununited. 
Go not far, Iseult ! from my grave. 

Rise, go hence, and seek the princess Iseult : 
Speak her fair, she is of royal blood. 
Say, I charg'd her, that ye live together : — 
She will grant it — she is kind and good. 


Now stand clear before me in the moonlight. 
Fare, farewell, thou long, thou deeply lov'd ! 


Tristram ! — Tristram — stay — I come ! Ah Sorrow- 
Fool ! thou missest — we are both unmov'd ! 

You see them clear : the moon shines bright. 
Slow — slow and softly, where she stood, 
She sinks upon the gTound : her hood 
Had fallen back : her arms outspread 
Still hold her lover's hands : her head 
Is bow'd, half-buried, on the bed. 
O'er the blanch'd sheet her raven hair 
Lies in disorder'd streams ; and there, 
Stining like white stars, the pearls still are, 
And the golden bracelets heavy and rare 


Flash on her white arms still. 

The very same which yesternight 

Flash'd in the silver sconces' light, 

When the feast was loud and the laughter shrill 

In the banquet-hall of Tyntagil. 

But then they deck'd a restless ghost 

With hot-flush'd cheeks and brilliant eyes 

And quivering lips on which the tide 

Of courtly speech abruptly died, 

And a glance that over the crowded floor, 

The dancers, and the festive host. 

Flew ever to the door. 

That the knights eyed her in surprise, 

And the dames whisper'd scoffingly — 

" Her moods, good lack, they pass like showers ! 

But yesternight and she would be 

As pale and still as wither'd flowers, 

And now to-night she laughs and speaks 

And has a colour in her cheeks. 

Heaven keep us from such fantasy !" — 


The air of the December night 
Steals coldly around the chamber bright : 
Swinging with it, in the light 
Shines the ghosthke tapestry. 
And there upon the wall you see 
A stately huntsman, clad in green, 
And round him a fresh forest scene. 
'Tis noon with him, and yet he stays 
With his pack round him, and delays, 
As rooted to the earth, nor sounds 
His lifted horn, nor cheers his hounds 
Into the tangled glen below. 
Yet in the sedgy bottom there 
Where the deep forest stream creeps slow 
Fring'd with dead leaves and mosses rare, 
The wild boar harbours close, and feeds. 

He gazes down into the room 
With heated cheeks and flurried air — 
Who is that kneeling lady fair ? 
And on his pillows that pale knight 


"Who seems of marble on a tomb 1 
How comes it here, this chamber bright, 
Through whose mullion'd windows clear 
The castle court all wet with rain, 
The drawbridge, and the moat appear, 
And then the beach, and mark'd with spray 
The sunken reefs, and far away 
The tmquiet bright Atlantic plain 1 — 

He stares and stares, with troubled face 
At the huge gleam-iit fireplace, 
At the bright iron-figur'd door, 
And the blown rushes on the floor. 

Has then some glamour made him sleep, 
And sent him with his dogs to sweep, 
By night, with boisterous bugle peal. 
Through some old, sea-side, knightly hall, 
Not in the free greenwood at all 1 
That knight 's asleep, and at her prayer 
That lady by the bed doth kneel : 
Then hush, thou boisterous bugle peal ! 


The wild boar rustles iu his lair — 

The fierce hounds snuff the tainted air — 

But lord and hounds keep rooted there. 

Cheer, cheer thy dogs into the brake, 

O hunter ! and without a fear 

Thy golden-tassell'd bugle blow, 

And through the glades thy pastime take ! 

For thou wilt rouse no sleepers here. 
For these thou seest are unmov'd ; 
Cold, cold as those who liv'd and lov'd 
A thousand years ago. 




Jlsrult oC ISrittang. 

A YEAR had flowii, and in the chapel old 
Lay Tristram and queen Iseult dead and cold. 
The young surviving Iseult, one bright day, 
Had wander'd forth : her children were at play 
In a gi'een circular hollow in the heath 
Which borders the sea-shore ; a countiy path 
Creeps over it from the till'd fields behind. 
The hollow's grassy banks are soft inclin'd, 
And to one standing on them, far and near 
The lone unbroken view spreads bright and clear 


Over the waste : — This ring of open gi'ound 
Is light and green j the heather, which all round 
Creeps thickly, grows not here ; but the pale grass 
Is strewn with rocks, and many a shiver'd mass 
Of vein'd white-gleaming quartz, and here and there 
Dotted with holly trees and juniper. 
In the smooth centre of the opening stood 
Three holhes side by side, and made a screen 
Warm with the winter sun, of burnish'd gi'een, 
With scarlet berries gemm'd, the feU-fare's food. 
Under the ghttering hollies Iseult stands 
Watching her children play : their little hands 
Are busy gathering spars of quartz, and streams 
Of stagshorn for their hats : anon, with screams 
Of mad delight they drop their spoils, and bound 
Among the holly clumps and broken ground, 
Racing full speed, and startling in their rush 
The fell-fares and the speckled mistle-thrush 
Out of their glossy coverts : but when now 
Their cheeks were flush'd, and over each hot brow 


Under the feather'd hats of the sweet pair 
In blinding masses shower'd the golden hair — 
Then Iseult called them to her, and the three 
Cluster'd under the hoUy screen, and she 
Told them an old-world Breton history. 

Warm in their mantles wrapt, the three stood there, 
Under the hollies, in the clear still air — 
Mantles with those rich furs deep gHstering 
Which Venice ships do from swart Egypt bring. 
Long they staid still — then, pacing at their ease, 
Mov'd up and down under the glossy trees ; 
But still as they pm'sued their warm dry road 
From Jseult's lips the unbroken story flow'd, 
And still the children listen' d, their blue eyes 
Fix'd on their mother's face in wide surprise ; 
Nor did their looks stray once to the sea-side, 
Nor to the brown heaths round them, bright and wide, 
Nor to the snow which,, though 'twas all away 
From the open heath, still by the hedgerows lay. 


Nor to the shining sea-fowl that with screams 
Bore up from where the bright Atlantic gleams, 
Swooping to landward ; nor to where, quite clear, 
The fell-fares settled on the thickets near. 
And they would still have listen' d, till dark night 
Came keen and chill down on the heather bright ; 
But, when the red glow on the sea grew cold. 
And the grej turrets of the castle old 
Look'd sternly through the frosty evening air, — 
Then Iseult took by the hand those children fair. 
And brought her tale to an end, and found the path. 
And led them home over the darkening heath. 

And is she happy ? Does she see unmov'd 
The days in which she might have liv'd and lov'd 
Shp without bringing bliss slowly away, 
One after one, to-morrow like to-day ? 
Joy has not found her yet, nor ever will : — 
Is it this thought that makes her mien so still, 


Her features so fatigued, lier eyes, though sweet, 

So sunk, so rarely Hfted save to meet 

Her children's ? She moves slow : her voice alone 

Has yet an infantine and silver tone. 

But even that comes languidly : in truth, 

She seems one dying in a mask of youth. 

And now she will go home, and softly lay 

Her laughing children in their beds, and play 

Awhile with them l)cfore they sleep ; and then 

She '11 light her silver lamp, which fishermen 

Dragging their nets through the rough waves, afar, 

Along this iron coast, know like a star. 

And take her broidery frame, and there she '11 sit 

Hour after hour, her gold curls sweeping it, 

Lifting her soft-bent head only to mind 

Her children, or to listen to the wind. 

And when the clock peals midnight, she will move 

Her work away, and let her fingers rove 

Across the shaggy brows of Tristram's hound 

Who lies, guarding her feet, along the ground : 


Or else she will fall musing, her blue eyes 
Fix'd, her slight hands clasp'd on her lap ; then rise, 
And at her prie-dieu kneel, until she have told 
Her rosary beads of ebony tipp'd with gold, 
Then to her soft sleep : and to-mon'ow '11 be 
To-day's exact repeated e^gj. 

Yes, it is lonely for her in her hall. 
The children, and the grey hair d seneschal. 
Her women, and Sir Tristram's aged hound. 
Are there the sole companions to be found. 
But these she loves; and noisier life than this 
She would find ill to bear, weak as she is : 
She has her children too, and night and day 
Is with them ; and the wide heaths where they play, 
The hoUies, and the cliff, and the sea-shore. 
The sand, the sea birds, and the distant sails, 
These are to her dear as to them : the tales 
With which this day the children she beguil'd 


She glean'd from Breton graudames when a child 
In every hut along this sea-coast wild. 
She herself loves them stUl, and, when they are told, 
Can forget all to heai' them, as of old. 

Dear saints, it is not sorrow, as I hear, 
Not suffering, that shuts up eye and ear 
To all which has delighted them before. 
And lets us be what we were once no more. 
No : we may suffer deeply, yet retain 
Power to be mov'd and sooth'd, for all our pain. 
By what of old pleas'd us, and will again. 
No : 'tis the gradual furnace of the world. 
In whose hot air our spirits are upcurl'd 
Until they crumble, or else grow like steel — 
Which kills in us the bloom, the youth, the spring — 
Which leaves the fierce necessity to feel, 
But takes away the power — this can avail. 
By diying up our joy in everything. 
To make our former pleasures aU seem stale. 


This, or some tyrannous single thought, some fit 
Of passion, which subdues our souls to it, 
Till for its sake alone we live and move — 
Call it ambition, or remorse, or love — 
This too can change us wholly, and make seem 
All that we did before, shadow and dream. 

And yet, I swear, it angers me to see 
How this fool passion gulls men potently ; 
Being in truth but a diseas'd unrest 
And an unnatural overheat at best. 
How they are full of languor and distress 
Not having it ; which when they do possess 
They straightway are bm-nt up with fume and care. 
And spend their lives in posting here and there 
Where this plague drives them ; and have little ease. 
Can never end their tasks, are hard to please. 
Like that bald Caesar, the fam'd Roman wight, 
Who wept at reading of a Grecian knight 


Who made a name at younger years than he : 
Or that renown'd mirror of chivahy, 
Prince Alexander, Philip's peerless son, 
Who caiTied the great war from Macedon 
Into the Soudan's realm, and thunder'd on 
To die at thirty-five in Babylon. 

What tale did Isenlt to the chikben say, 
Under the hollies, that bright winter's day 1 

She told them of the fairy-haunted land 
Away the other side of Brittany, 
Beyond the heaths, edg'd by the lonely sea j 
Of the deep forest-glades of Broce-hande, 
Through whose green boughs the golden sunshine creeps, 
Where Merlin by the enchanted thora-tree sleeps. 
For here he came with the fay Vivian, 
One April, when the warm days first began ; 
He was on foot, and that false fay, his friend, 
On her white palfrey : here he met his end, 


In these lone sylvan glades, that April day. 
This tale of Merlin and the lovely fay 
Was the one Tseult chose, and she brought clear 
Before the children's fancy him and her/ 

Blowing between the stems the forest air 
Had loosen'd the brown curls of Vivian's hair, 
Which play'd on her flush'd cheek, and her blue eyes 
Sparkled with mocking glee and exercise. 
Her palfrey's flanks were mired and bath'd in sweat. 
For they had travell'd far and not stopp'd yet. 
A briar in that tangled wilderness 
Had scor'd her white right hand, which she allows 
To rest unglov'd on her green riding-dress ; 
The other warded off the drooping boughs. 
But still she chatted on, with her blue eyes 
Fix'd full on Merlin's face, her stately prize ; 
Her 'haviour had the morning's fresh clear grace, 
The spirit of the woods was in her face j 


She looked so witching fair, that learned wight 
Forgot his craft, and his best wits took flight, 
And he grew fond, and eager to obey 
His mistress, use her empire as she may. 

They came to where the brushwood ceas'd, and day 
Peer'd 'twixt the stems ; and the ground broke away 
In a slop'd sward down to a brawling brook, 
And up as high as where they stood to look 
On the brook's further side was clear ; but then 
The underwood and trees began again. 
This open glen was studded tliick with thorns 
Then white with blossom ; and you saw the horns, 
Through the green feni, of the shy fallow-deer 
AVhich come at noon down to the water here. 
You saw the bright-eyed squirrels dart along 
Under the thorns on the green sward ; and strong 
The blackbird whistled from the dingles near, 
And the light chipping of the woodpecker 


Rang lonelily and sharp : the sky was fair, 

And a fresh breath of spring stirr'd everywhere. 

Merlin and Vivian stopp'd on the slope's brow 

To gaze on the gi-een sea of leaf and bough 

Which ghstering lay all round them, lone and mild, 

As if to itself the quiet forest smil'd. 

Upon the brow-top grew a thorn ; and here 

The grass was dry and moss'd, and you saw clear 

Across the hollow : white anemones 

Starr'd the cool turf, and clumps of primroses 

Ran out from the dark underwood behind. 

No fairer resting-place a man could find. 

" Here let us halt," said Merlin then; and she 

Nodded, and tied her palfrey to a tree. 

They sate them down together, and a sleep 
Fell upon Merlin, more like death, so deep. 
Her finger on her lips, then Vivian rose, 
And from her brown-lock VI head the wimple throws, 


And takes it in her hand, and waves it over 
The blossom'd thorn-tree and her sleeping lover. 
Nine times she wav'd the fluttering wimple round, 
And made a little plot of magic ground. 
And in that daisied circle, as men say, 
Is Merhn prisoner till the judgment-day, 
But she herself whither she will can rove, 
For she was passing weai'y of his love. ' 




April, 1850. 

Goethe in Weimar sleeps, and Greece, 
Long since, saw Byron's stmggle cease. 
But one such death remain'd to come. 
The last poetic voice is dumb. 
What shall be said o'er Wordsworth's tomb ? 

When B}Ton's eyes were shut in death. 
We bow'd our head and held our breath. 
He taught us little : but our soul 
Had ftlt him like the thunder's roll. 
^\'ith shivering heail the strife we saw 


Of Passion with Eternal Law. 
And yet with reverential awe 
We watch'd the fount of fiery life 
Which sei'v'd for that Titanic strife. 

When Goethe's death was told, we said — 

Srnik, then, is Europe's sagest head. 

Physician of the Iron Age 

Goethe has done his pilgi'image. 

He took the suffering human race, 

He read each wound, each weakness clear — ^10 

And struck his finger on the place 

And said — Thou ailest here, and here. — 

He look'd on Europe's dying hour 

Of fitful dream and feverish power ; 

His eye plung'd down the weltering strife. 

The turmoil of expiring life ; 

He said — The end is everywhere : 

Art still has truth, take refuge there. — 

And he was happy, if to know 


Causes of things, and far below 
His feet to see the lurid flow 
Of ten'or, and insane distress, 
And headlong fate, be happiness. 

And Wordsworth ! — Ah, pale ghosts ! rejoice ! 

For never has such soothing voice 

Been to your shadowy world convey'd, 

Since erst, at morn, some wandering shade 

Heard the clear song of Orpheus come 

Thi'ough Hades, and the mournful gloom. 

Wordsworth is gone from us — and ye, ^ ^0 

Ah, may ye feel his voice as we. 

He too upon a wintry clime 

Had fallen — on this iron time 

Of doubts, disputes, distractions, fears. 

He found us when the age had bound 

Our souls in its benumbing round : 

He spoke, and loos'd our heart in tears. 

He laid us as we lay at birth 


On the cool flowery lap of earth ; 
Smiles broke from us and we had ease. 
The hills were round us, and the breeze 
Went o'er the sun-lit fields again : 
Our foreheads felt the wind and rain. 
Oui' youth return'd : for there was shed 
On spirits that had long been dead, 
Spirits dried up and closely-fmi'd, 
The freshness of the early world. 

Ah, since dark days still bring to light 
Man's prudence and man's fiery might, 
Time may restore us in his course 
Goethe's sage mind and Byron's force : 
But where will Em-ope's latter hour 
Again find Wordsworth's healing power 1 
Others will teach us how to dare. 
And against fear our breast to steel ; 
Others will strengthen us to bear — 
But who, ah who, will make us feel ? 


The cloud of mortal destiny, 
Others will front it fearlessly — 
But who, like him, will put it by ? 

Keep fresh the grass upon his grave, 
Rotha ! with thy living wave. 
Sing him thy best ! for few or none 
Hears thy voice right, now he is gone. 



True, we must tame om- rebel will : 
True, we must bow to Nature's law : 
Must bear in silence many an ill; 
Must learn to wait, renounce, withdraw. 

Yet now, when boldest wills give place, 
When Fate and Circumstance are strong. 
And in their rush the human race 
Are swept, like huddling sheep, along ; 

Those sterner spirits let me prize. 
Who, though the tendence of the whole 
They less than us might recog-nize. 
Kept, more than us, their strengih of soul. 


Yes, be the second Cato prais'd ! 
Not that ho took the course to die — 
But that, wheu 'gainst himself he rais'd 
His ai-m, he rais'd it dauntlessly. 

And, Byron ! let us dare admire, 
If not thy fierce and turbid song, 
Yet that, in anguish, doubt, desire, 
Thy fiery com'age still was strong. 

The sun that on thy tossing pain 
Did with such cold derision shine, 
He crush'd thee not with his disdain — 
He had his glow, and thou hadst thine. 

Our bane, disguise it as we may, 
Is weakness, is a faltering course. 
Oh that past times could give our day, 
Join'd to its clearness, of their force ! 



Weary of myself, and sick of asking 
What I am, and what I ought to be, 
At the vessel's prow I stand, which bears me 
Forwards, forwards, o'er the star-lit sea. 

And a look of passionate desire 

O'er the sea and to the stars I send : 

^' Ye who from my childhood up have calm'd me, 

Calm me, ah, compose me to the end. 

'• Ah, once more," I cried, " ye Stars, ye Waters, 
On my heart your mighty charm renew : 
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you. 
Feel my soul becoming vast like you." 


From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven, 
Over the lit sea's unquiet way, 
In the rustling night-air came the answer — 
" Wouldst thou he as these are 1 Live as they. 

" Unaffrighted by the silence round them, 
Undistracted by the sights they see, 
These demand not that the things without them 
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy. 

" And with joy the stars perform their shining, 
And the sea its long moon-silver'd roll. 
For alone they live, nor pine with noting 
All the fever of some dififering soul. 

" Bounded by themselves, and unobservant 
In what state God's other works may be, 
In their own tasks all their powers pom'ing. 
These attain the mighty life you see." 


air-born Voice ! long since, severely clear, 
A cry like thine in my own heart I hear. 
" Resolve to be thyself : and know, that he 
^Slio finds himself, loses his misery." 



In the deserted moou-blanch'd street 
How lonely rings the echo of my feet ! 
Those windows, which I gaze at, fro'^\Ti, 
Silent and white, unopening down, 
Repellent as the world : — but see ! 
A break between the housetops shows 
The moon, and, lost behind her, fading dim 
Into the dewy dark obscurity 
Down at the far horizon's rim, 

Doth a whole tract of heaven disclose. 

And to my mind the thought 

Is on a sudden brought 

Of a past night, and a far different scene. 

Headlands stood out into the moon-lit deep 


As clearly as at noon ; 

The spring-tide's brimming flow 

Heav'd dazzlingly between ; 

Houses with long white sweep 

Girdled the glistening bay : 

Behind, thi'ough the soft air, 

The blue haze-cradled mountains spread away. 

That night was far more fair ; 
But the same restless pacings to and fro. 
And the same agitated heart was there, 
And the same bright calm moon. 

And the calm moonlight seems to say — 

— " Hast thou then still the old unquiet breast 

That neither deadens into rest 

Nor ever feels the fiery glow 

That whirls the spirit from itself away. 

But fluctuates to and fro 

Never by passion quite possess'd. 

And never quite benumb'd by the world's swayf 


And I, I know not if to pray 

Still to be what I am, or yield, and be 

Like all the other men I see. 

For most men in a brazen prison live. 

Where in the sun's hot eye. 

With heads bent o'er their toil, they languidly 

Their lives to some unmeaning taskwork give. 

Dreaming of nought beyond their prison wall. 

And as, year after year, 

Fresh products of their baiTen labour fall 

From their tired hands, and rest 

Never yet comes more near, 

Gloom settles slowly down over their breast. 

And while they try to stem 

The waves of moui-nful thought by which they are prest, 

Death in their prison reaches them 

Unfreed, having seen nothing, still unblest. 

And the rest, a few, 

Escape their prison, and depart 


On the wide Ocean of Life anew. 
There the freed prisoner, where'er his heart 
Listeth, will sail ; 

Nor does he know how there prevail, 
Despotic on life's sea, 
Trade-winds that cross it from eternity. 
Awhile he holds some false way, undebarr'd 
By thwarting signs, and braves 
The freshening wind and blackening waves. 
And then the tempest strikes him, and between 
The lightning bursts is seen 
Only a di'iving wi'eck, 

And the pale Master on his spar- strewn deck 
With anguish'd face and flying hair 
Grasping the rudder hard. 

Still bent to make some port he knows not where. 
Still standing for some false impossible shore. 
And sterner comes the roar 

Of sea and wind, and through the deepening gloom 
Fainter and fainter wreck and helmsman loom, 
And he too disappears, and comes no more. 


Is there no life, but these alone 1 
Madman or slave, must man be one 1 

Plainness and clearness without shadow of stain, 

Clearness divine ! 

Ye Heavens, whose pure dark regions have no sign 

Of languor, though so calm, and though so great 

Are yet untroubled and unpassionate : 

Who, though so noble, share in the world's toil, 

And though so task'd, keep free from dust and soil 

I will not say that your mild deeps retain 

A tinge, it may be, of their silent pain 

Who have long'd deeply once, and long'd in vain ; 

But I will rather say that you remain 

A world above man s head, to let him see 

How boundless might his soul's horizons be, 

How vast, yet of what clear transparency. 

How it were good to sink there, and breathe free. 

How high a lot to fill 
Is left to each man still. 



Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet. 
Behold, with tears my eyes are wet. 
I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll. 

Yes, yes, we know that we can jest, 
We know, we know that we can smile ; 
But there 's a something in this breast 
To which thy light words bring no rest. 
And thy gay smiles no anodyne. 

Give me thy hand, and hush awhile, 
And turn those limpid eje^ on mine, 
And let me read there, love, thy inmost soul. 

Alas, is even Love too weak 
To unlock the heart and let it speak ? 
Are even lovers powerless to reveal 
To one another what indeed they feel ? 


T knew the mass of men conceal'd 
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd 
They would by other men be met 
With blank indifference, or with blame reprov'd : 
I knew they liv'd and mov'd 
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest 
Of men, and alien to themselves — and yet 
There beats one heart in every human breast. 

But we, my love — does a like spell benumb 

Om' hearts — our voices ? — must we too be dumb ? 

Ah, well for us, if even we. 

Even for a moment, can get free 

Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd : 

For that which seals them hath been deep ordain'd. 

Fate, which foresaw 

How frivolous a baby man would be, 

By what distractions he would be possess'd, 

How he would pour himself in every strife, 

And well-nigh change his own identity ; 


That it might keep from his capricious play 
His genuine self, and force him to obey 
Even in his own despite, his being's law, 
Bade, through the deep recesses of our breast, 
The unregarded river of our life 
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way j 
And that we should not see 
The buried stream, and seem to be 
Eddying about in blind uncertainty. 
Though driving on with it eternally. 

But often, in the world's most crowded streets, 

But often, in the din of strife, 

There rises an unspeakable desire 

After the knowledge of our bmied life, 

A thirst to spend our fire and restless force 

In tracking out our true, original course j 

A longing to inquire 

Into the mystery of this heart that beats 

So wild, so deep in us, to know 


Whence our thoughts come and where they go. 
And many a man in his own breast then delves, 
But deep enough, alas, none ever mines : 
And we have been on many thousand lines, 
And we have shown on each talent and power, 
But hardly have we, for one little hour, 
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves j 
Hardly had skill to utter one of all 
The nameless feelings that course through our breast. 
But they com^se on for ever unexpress'd. 
And long we try in vain to speak and act 
Our hidden self, and what we say and do 
Is eloquent, is well — but 'tis not ti*ue : 
And then we will no more be rack'd 
With inward striving, and demand 
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour 
Their stupifying power. 
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call ; 
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn. 
From the soul's subterranean depth upborne 


As from an infinitely distant land, 

Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey 

A melancholy into all our day. 

Only — but this is rare — 

When a beloved hand is laid in ours, 

When, jaded with the rush and glare 

Of the interminable hours, 

Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear. 

When our world-deafen'd ear 

Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd, 

A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast 
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again : 
The e3^e sinks inward, and the heart lies plain. 
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know. 
A man becomes aware of his life's flow 
And hears its winding murmur, and he sees 
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze. 

And there arrives a lull in the hot race 
Wherein he doth for ever chase 


That flying and elusive shadow, Rest. 
An air of coolness plays upon his face, 
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast. 

And then he thinks he knows 
The Hills where his life rose, 
And the Sea where it goes. 



My horse's feet beside the lake, 

Where sweet the unbroken moonbeams lay, 

Sent echoes through the night to wake 

Each glistening strand, each heath-fring'd bay. 

The poplar avenue was pass'd, 

And the roof'd bridge that spans the stream. 

Up the steep street I huiTied fast, 

Lit by thy taper's starlike beam. 

I came, I saw thee rise j — the blood 
Came flooding to thy languid cheek. 
Lock'd in each other's arms we stood, 
In tears, with hearts too full to speak. 


Days flew : ah, soon I could discern 

A trouble in thine alter'd air. 

Thy hand lay languidly in mine — 

Thy cheek was grave, thy speech gi-ew rai-e. 

I blame thee not : — this heart, I know, 
To be long lov'd was never fmm'd ; 
For something in its depths doth glow 
Too strange, too restless, too untam'd. 

And women — things that live and move 
Min'd by the fever of the soul — 
They seek to find in those they love 
Stem strength, and promise of control. 

They ask not kindness, gentle ways ; 

These they themselves have tried and known : 

They ask a soul that never sways 

With the blind gusts which shake their own. 


I too have felt the load I bore 
In a too strong emotion's sway ; 
I too have wish'd, no woman more, 
This starting, feverish heart away. 

I too have long'd for trenchant force, 
And will like a dividing spear ; 
Have praised the keen, unscrupulous course^ 
Which knows no doubt, which feels no fear. 

But in the world I learnt, what there 
Thou too wilt surely one day prove, 
That will, that energy, though rare, 
Are yet far far less rare than love. 

Go, then ! till Time and Fate impress 
This truth on thee, be mine no more ! 
They will : for thou, I feel, no less 
Than I, wert destin'd to this lore. 


We school our maimers, act our parts : 
But He, who sees us through and through, 
Knows that the bent of both our hearts 
Was to be gentle, tranquil, true. 

And though we wear out life, alas ! 
Distracted as a homeless wind, 
In beating where we must not pass, 
In seeking what we shall not find ; 

Yet we shall one day gain, life past, 
Clear prospect o'er our being's whole : 
Shall see ourselves, and learn at last 
Our true affinities of soul. 

We shall not then deny a course 
To every thought the mass ignore : 
We shall not then call hardness force, 
Nor lightness wisdom any more. 


Then, in the eternal Father's smile, 
Oui' sooth'd, encourag'd souls will dare 
To seem as free from pride and guile, 
As good, as generous, as they are. 

Then we shaU know our friends : though much 
Will have been lost — the help in strife ; 
The thousand sweet still joys of such 
As hand in hand face earthly life — 

Though these be lost, there will be yet 
A sympathy august and pure ; 
Ennobled by a vast regret, 
And by contrition seal'd thrice sure. 

And we, whose ways were unlike here, 
May then more neighbouring courses ply. 
May to each other be brought near, 
And gi-eet across infinity. 


How sweet, unreach'd by earthly jars, 
My sister ! to behold with thee 
The hush among the shining stars, 
The calm upon the moonlit sea. 

How sweet to feel, on the boon air, 
All our unquiet pulses cease — 
To feel that nothing can impair 
The gentleness, the thirst for peace — 

The gentleness too rudely hurl'd 
On this -wild earth of hate and fear : 
The thirst for peace a raving world 
Would never let us satiate here. 




In front the awful Alpine track 
Crawls up its rocky stair ; 
The autumn storm-winds drive the rack 
Close o'er it, in the air. 

Behind are the abandoned baths 
Mute in their meadows lone ; 
The leaves are on the valley paths ; 
The mists are on the Rhone — 

The white mists rolling like a sea. 
I hear the toiTents roar. 
— Yes, Obermann, all speaks of thee ! 
I feel thee near once more. 


I tiu'u thy leaves : I feel their breath 
Once more upon me roll ; 
That air of languor, cold, and death, 
Which brooded o'er thy soul. 

Fly hence, poor Wretch, whoe'er thou art, 
Condemn'd to cast about, 
All shipwreck in thy own weak heart. 
For comfort from without : 

A fever in these pages burns 
Beneath the calm they feign ; 
A -wounded human spirit turns 
Here, on its bed of pain. 

Yes, though the virgin mountain air 
Fresh through these pages blows. 
Though to these leaves the glaciers spare 
Tlie soul of their mute snows. 


Though here a mountain murmur srrells 
Of many a dark-bough'd pine, 
Though, as you read, you hear the bells 
Of the high-pasturing kine — 

Yet, through the hum of torrent lone. 
And brooding mountain bee, 
There sobs I know not what ground tone 
Of human agony. 

Is it for this, because the sound 
Is fraught too deep with pain, 
That, Obermann ! the world around 
So little loves thy strain ? 

Some secrets may the poet tell, 
For the world loves new ways. 
To tell too deep ones is not well ; 
It knows not what he says. 


Yet of the spirits who have reign'd 
In this our troubled day, 
I know but two, who have attain'd, 
Save thee, to see their way. 

By England's lakes, in grey old age, 
His quiet home one keeps;* 
And one, the strong much-toiling Sage, 
In Geraian Weimar sleeps. 

But Wordsworth's eyes avert their ken 
From half of human fate ; 
And Goethe's com-se few sons of men 
May think to emulate. 

For he pm-sued a lonely road, 
His eyes on nature's plan ; 
Neither made man too much a God, 
Nor God too much a man. 

* Written in November. 1849. 


Strong was he, with a spirit free 
From mists, and sane, and clear ; 
Clearer, how much ! than ours : yet we 
Have a worse com'se to steer. 

For though his manhood bore the blast 
Of a tremendous time. 
Yet in a tranquil world was pass'd 
His tenderer youthful prime. 

But we, brought forth and rear'd in hours 
Of change, alarm, surprise — 
What shelter to grow ripe is ours ? 
What leisure to gi'ow wise 1 

Like children bathing on the shore, 
Buried a wave beneath, 
The second wave succeeds, before 
We have had time to breathe. 

STANZAS. 1 89 

Too fast we live, too much are tried, 
Too barass'd, to attain 
Wordsworth's sweet calm, or Goethe's wide 
And luminous view to gain. 

And then we turn, thou sadder sage ! 
To thee : we feel thy spell. 
The hopeless tangle of our age — 
Thou too hast scann'd it well. 

Immoveable thou sittest; still 
As death ; compos'd to bear. 
Thy head is clear, thy feeling chill — 
And icy thy despair. 

Yes, as the Son of Thetis said, 
One hears thee saying now — 
" Greater by far than thou are dead : 
Strive not : die also thou." — 


Ah ! Two desires toss about 

The poet's feverish blood. 

One drives him to the world without, 

And one to solitude. 

The glow of thought, the thrill of life — 
Where, where do these abound ? 
Not in the world, not in the strife 
Of men, shall they be found. 

He who hath watch'd, not shar'd, the strife. 
Knows how the day hath gone ; 
He only lives with the world's life 
Who hath renounc'd his own. 

To thee we come, then. Clouds are roll'd 
Where thou, Seer, art set ; 
Thy realm of thought is drear and cold — 
The w^orld is colder yet ! 

STANZAS. 1 9 1 

And thou hast pleasures too to share 
With those who come to thee : 
Balms floating on thy mountain aii\ 
And healing sights to see. 

How often, where the slopes are green 
On Jaman, hast thou sate 
By some high chalet door, and seen 
The summer day gTow late, 

And dai'kness steal o'er the wet grass 
With the pale crocus staiT'd, 
And reach that ghmmering sheet of glass 
Beneath the piny sward, 

Lake Leman's waters, far below : 
And watch'd the rosy hght 
Fade from the distant peaks of snow : 
And on the air of night 


Heard accents of the eternal tongue 
Througli the pine branches play : 
Listen'd, and felt thyself gro^w young ; 
Listen'd, and wept Away ! 

Away the di-eams that but deceive ! 
And thou, sad Guide, adieu ! 
I go ; Fate drives me : but I leave 
Half of my life with you. 

We, in some unknown Power's employ, 
Move on a rigorous line : 
Can neither, when we -^dU, enjoy ; 
Nor, when we will, resign. 

I in the world must live : — but thou, 
Thou melancholy Shade ! 
Wilt not, if thou can'st see me now. 
Condemn me, nor upbraid. 


For thou art gone away from earth, 
And place with those dost claim, 
The Childi-en of the Second Birth 
Whom the world could not tame ; 

And with that small transfigur'd Band, 
Whom many a diflferent way 
Conducted to their common land, 
Thou learn'st to think as they. 

Christian and pagan, king and slave, 
Soldier and anchorite. 
Distinctions we esteem so gi'ave. 
Are nothing in their sight. 

They do not ask, who pin'd unseen. 
Who was on action huii'd, 
Whose one bond is, that all have been 
Unspotted by the world. 


There without anger thou wilt see 
Him who obeys thy spell 
No more, so he but rest, like thee, 
Unsoil'd : — and so. Farewell ! 

Farewell ! — Whether thou now liest near 
That much-lov'd inland sea. 
The ripples of whose blue waves cheer 
Vevey and Meillerie, 

And in that gracious region bland. 
Where with clear-rustling wave 
The scented pines of Switzerland 
Stand dark round thy green grave, 

Between the dusty vineyard walls 
Issuing on that green place, 
The early peasant still recalls 
The pensive stranger's face, 


And stoops to clear thy moss-grown date 
Ere he plods on again : 
Or whether, by maligner fate, 
Among the swarms of men, 

Where between granite teiTaees 
The Seine conducts her wave, 
The Capital of Pleasure sees 
Thy hardly heard of grave — 

Farewell ! Under the sky we part, 
In this stern Alpine dell. 
unstrung will ! broken heart ! 
A last, a last farewell ! 



Mist clogs the sunshine. 

Smoky dwarf houses 

Hem me round everywhere. 

A vague dejection 
Weighs down my soul. 

Yet, while I languish, 
Everywhere, countless 
Prospects unroll themselves 

And countless beings 
Pass countless moods. 

Far hence, in Asia, 

On the smooth convent-roofs, 

On the gold terraces 

Of holy Lassa, 
Bright shines the sun. 


Grey time-worn marbles 
Hold the pure Muses. 
In their cool gallery, 

By yellow Tiber, 
They still look fair. 

Strange unlov'd uproar* 
Shrills round their portal. 
Yet not on Helicon 

Kept they more cloudless 
Their noble calm. 

Through sun-proof alleys, 
In a lone, sand-hemm'd 
City of Africa, 

A blind, led beggar, 
Age-bow'd, asks alms. 

Written during the siege of Rome by the French. 


No bolder Robber 
Erst abode ambush'd 
Deep in the sandy waste 

No clearer eyesight 
Spied prey afar. 

Saharan sand-winds 
Sear'd his keen eyeballs. 
Spent is the spoil he won. 

For him the present 
Holds only pain. 

Two young, fair lovers, 
Where the warm June wind. 
Fresh from the summer fields, 

Plays fondly round them, 
Stand, tranc'd in joy. 


With sweet, join'd voices, 
And with eyes brimming — 
" Ah," they cry, " Destiny ! 

Prolong the present ! 
Time ! stand still here ! " 

The prompt stern Goddess 
Shakes her head, frowning. 
Time gives his horn* glass 

Its due reversal. 
Their hour is gone. 

With weak indulgence 
Did the just Goddess 
Lengthen their happiness. 

She lengthen'd also 
Distress elsewhere. 


The hour, whose happy 
Unalloy'd moments 
I would eternalize. 

Ten thousand mourners 
Well pleas'd see end. 

The bleak stem hour, 
"Whose severe moments 
I would annihilate, 

Is pass'd by others 
In warmth, light, joy. 

Time, so complain'd of, 
Who to no one man 
Shows partiality. 

Brings round to all men 
Some undimm'd hours. 




In this lone open glade I lie, 

Screen'd by dark trees on either hand ; 

And at its head, to stay the eye, 

Those black-topp'd, red-bol'd pine-trees stand. 

The clouded sky is still and gi'ey, 
Through silken rifts soft peers the sun. 
Light the green-foliag'd chestnuts play, 
The darker elms stand grave and dun. 

The birds sing sweetly in these trees 
Across the girdling city's hum j 
How green under the boughs it is ! 
How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come ! 


Sometimes a child will cross the glade 
To take his nm-se his broken toy : 
Sometimes a thnish flit overhead 
Deep in her unknown day's employ , 

Here at my feet what wonders pass, 
What endless active life is here ! 
What blowing daisies, fragrant grass ! 
An air-stin-'d forest, fresh and clear. 

Scarce fresher is the mountain sod 
Where the tired angler lies, stretch'd out. 
And, eas'd of basket and of rod, 
Counts his day's spoil, the spotted trout. 

I, on men's impious uproar hurl'd. 
Think sometimes, as I hear them rave. 
That peace has left the upper world, 
And now keeps only in the grave. 


Yet here is peace for ever new. 
When I, who watch them, am away, 
Still all things in this glade go through 
The changes of their quiet day. 

Then to their happy rest they pass. 
The flowers close, the birds are fed ; 
The night comes down upon the grass : 
The child sleeps warmly in his bed. 

Calm Soul of all things ! make it mine 
To feel, amid the city's jar, 
That there abides a peace of thine, 
Man did not make, and cannot mar. 

The will to neither strive nor cry, 
The power to feel with others give. 
Calm, calm me more ; nor let me die 
Before I have begun to live. 



So far as I conceive the World's rebuke 
To him address'd who would recast her new, 
Not from herself her fame of strength she took, 
But from then- weakness, who would work her rue. 

" Behold, she cries, so many rages lull'd. 
So many fiery spirits quite cool'd down : 
Look how so many valours, long undull'd, 
After short commerce with me, fear my frown. 
Thou too, when thou against my crimes wouldst cry. 
Let thy foreboded homage check thy tongue." — 
The World speaks well : yet might her foe reply — 

" Are wills so weak 1 then let not mine wait long. 
Hast thou so rare a poison ? let me be 
Keener to slay thee, lest thoi; poison me." 



Moderate tasks and moderate leisui'e ; 
Quiet living, strict-kept measure 
Both in suffering and in pleasure, 
Tis for this thy natui'e yearns. 

But so many books thou readest, 
But so many schemes thou breedest, 
But so many wishes feedest, 

That thy poor head almost turns. 

And, (the world 's so madly jangled, 
Human things so fest entangled) 
Nature's wish must now be strangled 
For that best which she discerns. 


So it must be : yet, while leading 
A straiu'd life, while overfeeding, 
Like the rest, his wit with reading, 
No small profit that man earns. 

Who through all he meets can steer him, 
Can reject what cannot clear him. 
Cling to what can truly cheer him : 
Who each day more surely learns 

That an impulse, from the distance 
Of his deepest, best existence, 
To the words " Hope, Light, Persistance,' 
Strongly stirs and truly burns. 



Before Man parted for this eartlily strand, 
While yet upon the verge of heaven he stood, 
God put a heap of letters in his hand, 
And bade him make with them what word he could. 

And Man has tum'd them many times : made Greece, 
Rome, England, France : — yes, nor in vain essay'd 
Way after way, changes that never cease. 
The letters have combin'd : something was made. 

But ah, an inextinguishable sense 
Haunts him that he has not made what he should. 
That he has still, though old, to recommence, 
Since he has not yet found the word God would. 


And Empire after Empire, at their height 
Of sway, have felt this boding sense come on. 
Have felt their huge frames not constructed right, 
And droop'd, and slowly died upon their throne. 

One day, thou say'st, there will at last appeal* 
The word, the order, which God meant should be. 

Ah, we shall know that well when it comes near. 
The band will quit Man's heart : — he will breathe free. 



Rais'd are the dripping oars — 
Silent the boat : the lake, 
Lovely and soft as a dream, 
Swims in the sheen of the moon. 
The mountains stand at its head 
Clear in the pm-e June night, 
But the valleys are flooded with haze. 
Rydal and Fan-field are there ; 
In the shadow Wordsworth lies dead. 
So it is, so it will be for aye. 
Nature is fresh as of old. 
Is lovely : a mortal is dead. 

The spots which recall him sm-vive. 
For he lent a new life to these hills. 
The Pillar still broods o'er the fields 



That border Ennerdale Lake, 
And Egremont sleeps by the sea. 
The gleam of The Evening Star 
Twinkles on Grasmere no more, 
But ruin'd and solemn and grey 
The sheepfold of Michael survives, 
And far to the south, the heath 
Still blows in the Quantock coombs, 

By the favourite waters of Ruth. 
These survive : yet not without pain, 
Pain and dejection to-night. 
Can I feel that their Poet is gone. 

He grew old in an age he condemn'd. 

He look'd on the rushing decay 

Of the times which had shelter'd his youth. 

Felt the dissolving throes 

Of a social order he lov'd. 

Outliv'd his brethren, his peers. 


And, like the Theban seer, 
Died in his enemies' day. 

Cold bubbled the spring of Tilphusa. 
Copais lay bright in the moon. 
Helicon glass'd in the lake 
Its firs, and afar, rose the peaks 
Of Parnassus, snowily clear. 
Thebes was behind him in flames, 
And the clang of arms in his ear, 
When his a^ye-struck captors led 
The Theban seer to the spring. 

Tu-esias di-auk and died. 
Nor did reviving Thebes 
See such a prophet again. 

Well may we mourn, when the head 

Of a sacred poet lies low 

In an age which can rear them no more. 


The complaining millions of men 

Darken in labour and pain ; 

But he was a priest to us aU 

Of the wonder and bloom of the world, 

Which we saw with his eyes, and were glad. 

He is dead, and the fruit-bearing day 
Of his race is past on the earth ; 
And darkness returns to our eyes. 

For oh, is it you, is it you. 

Moonlight, and shadow, and lake, 

And mountains, that fill us with joy. 

Or the Poet who sings you so well ? 

Is it you, Beauty, Grace, 

Charm, Bomance, that we feel, 

Or the voice which reveals what you are ? 

Are ye, like daylight and sun, 

Shar'd and rejoic'd in by all ? 

Or are ye immers'd in the mass 


Of matter, and hard to extract, 
Or sunk at the core of the world 
Too deep for the most to discern 1 

Like stars in the deep of the sky. 
Which arise on the glass of the sage, 
But are lost when their watcher is gone. 

" They are here" — I heard, as men heai'd 

In Mysian Ida the voice 

Of the Mighty Mother, or Crete, 

The murmur of Nature reply — 

" Loveliness, Magic, and Grace, 

They are here — they are set in the world — 

They abide — and the finest of souls 

Has not been thrill'd by them all. 

Nor the dullest been dead to them quite. 

The poet who sings them may die. 

But they are immortal, and live, 

For they are the life of the world. 


Will ye not learn it, and know, 
When ye mourn that a poet is dead, 
That the singer was less than his themes, 

Life, and Emotion, and I ] 


" More than the singer are these. 
Weak is the tremor of pain 
That thrills in his monrnfuUest chord 
To that which once ran through his soul. 
Cold the elation of joy 
In his gladdest, airiest song. 
To that which of old in his youth 
Fill'd him and made him divine. 
Hardly his voice at its best 
Gives us a sense of the awe. 
The vastness, the grandeur, the gloom 
Of the unlit gulf of himself. 

" Ye know not yourselves — and your bards, 
The clearest, the best, who have read 


Most in themselves, have beheld 
Less than they left unreveal'd. 
Ye express not yourselves — can ye make 
With mai'ble, with colour, with word. 
What charm'd you in others re-live ? 
Can thy pencil, Artist, restore 
The figure, the bloom of thy love. 
As she was in her morning of spring ? 
Canst thou paint the inefiable smile 
Of her eyes as they rested on thine ? 
Can the image of life have the glow, 
The motion of life itself? 

" Yourselves and your feUows ye know not — and me 
The mateless, the one, will ye know ? 
Will ye scan me, and read me, and tell 
Of the thoughts that ferment in my breast, 
My longing, my sadness, my joy 1 
WiH ye claim for your great ones the gift 
To have render'd the gleam of my skies, 


To have echoed the moan of my seas, 
Utter'd the voice of my hills 1 
When your gi-eat ones depart, -^dll ye say — 
" All things have suffer'd a loss — 
Nature is hid in their grave ? " 

" Race after race, man after man, 
Have dream'd that my secret was theirs, 
Have thought that I Hv'd but for them, 
That they were my glory and joy. — 
They are dust, they are chang'd, they are gone. 
T remain." 



We, Nature, depart, 
Thou survivest us : this, 
This, I know, is the law. 
Yes, but more than this, 
Thou who seest us die 
Seest us change while we live ; 
Seest our dreams one by one, 
Seest our errors depart : 

Watchest us. Nature, throughout, 
Mild and inscrutably calm. 

Well for us that we change ! 
Well for us that the Power 
Which in our morning prime. 


Saw the mistakes of our youth, 
Sweet, and forgiving, and good, 
Sees the contrition of age ! 

Behold, Nature, this pair. 

See them to-night where they stand, 

Not with the halo of youth 

Crowning their brows with its light. 

Not with the sunshine of hope. 

Not with the rapture of spring. 

Which they had of old, when they stood 

Years ago at my side 

In this self-same garden, and said ; 

" We are young, and the world is ours. 

For man is the king of the world. 

Fools that these mystics are 

Who prate of Nature ! but she 

Has neither beauty, nor warmth, 

Nor life, nor emotion, nor power. 

But Man has a thousand gifts, 


And tlic generous di'camer invests 
The senseless world with them all. 

Nature is nothing ! her charm 
Lives in oiu- eyes which can paint, 
Lives in our hearts which can feel !" 

Thou, Nature, wert mute, 

Mute as of old : days flew, 

Days and years ; and Time 

With the ceaseless stroke of his wings 

Brush'd off the bloom from their soul. 

Clouded and dim grew their eye. 

Languid their heart ; for Youth 

Quicken'd its pulses no more. 

Slowly within the walls 

Of an ever-naiTowing world 

They droop'd, they grew blind, they grew old. 

Thee and their Youth in thee, 

Nature, they saw no more. 


Murmur of living ! 
Stir of existence ! 
Soul of the world ! 
Make, oh make yourselves felt 
To the dying spirit of Youth. 
Come, like the breath of the spring. 
Leave not a human soul 
To grow old in darkness and pain. 

Only the living can feel you : 
But leave us not while we live. 

Here they stand to-night — 
Here, whero this gTcy balustrade 
Crowns the still valley : behind 
Is the castled house with its woods 
Which shelter'd their childhood, the sun 
On its ivied windows ; a scent 
From the grey-wall'd gardens, a breath 
Of the fragrant stock and the pink 


Perfumes the evening air. 

Their childi-en play on the lawns. 
They stand and hsten : they hear 
The childi'en's shouts, and, at times, 
Faintly, the bark of a dog 
From a distant farm in the hills : — 
Nothing besides : in fi'ont 
The wide, wide valley outspreads 
To the dim horizon, repos'd 
In the twilight, and bath'd in dew. 

Corn-field and hamlet and copse 
Darkening fast ; but a light, 
Far off, a glory of day. 
Still plays on the city spires : 
And there in the dusk by the walls, 
With the grey mist marking its course 
Though the silent flowery land, 

On, to the plains, to the sea, 
Floats the imperial Stream. 


Well I know what they feel. 
They gaze, and the evening wind 
Plays on their faces : they gaze ; 
Airs from the Eden of Youth, 
Awake and stir in their soul : 
The past returns ; they feel 
What they are, alas ! what they were. 
They, not Nature, are chang'd. 
Well I know what they feel. 

Hush ! for tears 

Begin to steal to their eyes. 

Hush ! for fruit 

Grows from such sorrow as theirs. 

And they remember 

With piercing untold anguish 

The proud boasting of their youth. 

And they feel how Nature was fair. 
And the mists of delusion. 


And the scales of habit, 
Fall away from their eyes. 
And they sec, for a moment, 
Stretching out, like the desert 
In its weary, unprofitable length. 
Then* faded ignoble lives. 

While the locks are yet brown on thy head, 
While the soul still looks through thine eyes, 
While the heart still pours 
The manthng blood to thy cheek, 

Sink, Youth, in thy soul ! 
Yearn to the greatness of Nature ! 
Rally the good in the depths of thyself. 



We cannot kindle when we will 
The fii-e that in the heart resides, 
The spirit bloweth and is still, 
In mystery our soul abides : 

But tasks in houi's of insight will'd 
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd. 

With aching hands and bleeding feet 

We dig and heap, lay stone on stone ; 

We bear the bm'den and the heat 

Of the long day, and wish 'twere done. 

Not till the hours of light return 

All we have built do we discern. 


Then, when the clouds are off the soul, 
When thou dost bask in Nature's eye, 
Ask, how she view'd thy self-control, 
Thy struggling task'd morality. 

Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air, 
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair. 

And she, whose censure thou dost dread. 
Whose eye thou wert afraid to seek. 
See, on her face a glow is spread, 
A strong emotion on her cheek. 
" Ah child," she cries, " that strife divine- 
Whence was it, for it is not mine ? 

" There is no effort on my brow — 
I do not strive, I do not weep. 
I rush with the swift spheres, and glow 
In joy, and, when I will, I sleep. — 
Yet that severe, that earnest air, 
I saw, I felt it once—but where 1 ' 


" I knew not yet the gauge of Time, 
Nor wore the manacles of Space. 
I felt it in some other clime — 
I saw it in some other place. 

— 'Twas when the heavenly house I trod. 
And lay upon the breast of God." 



The Master stood upou the Mount, and taught. 
He saw a fire in his Disciples' eyes. 
" The old Law," they said, " is wholly come to nought ; 
Behold the new world rise !" 

" Was it," the Lord then said, " with scorn ye saw 
The old Law observed by Scribes and Pharisees ? 
I say unto you, see ye keep that Law 
More faithfully than these. 

" Too hasty heads for ordering worlds, alas ! 
Think not that I to annul the Law have will'd. 
No jot, no tittle from the Law shall pass, 
Till all shall be fulfill'd." 


So Christ said eighteen hundred years ago. 
And what then shall be said to those to-day 
Who cry aloud to lay the old world low 
To clear the new world's way 1 

" Religious fervours ! ardour misapphed ! 
Hence, hence," they cry, " ye do but keep man blind ! 
But keep him self-immers'd, preoccupied, 
And lame the active mind." 

Ah, from the old world let some one answer give — 
" Scorn ye this world, their tears, their inward cares ? 
I say unto you, see that your souls live 
A deeper life than theirs. 

" Say ye, — The spirit of man has found new roads ; 
And we must leave the old faiths, and walk therein ?- 
Quench then the altar fires of your old Gods ! 
Quench not the fire within ! 


" Bright else, and fast, the stream of life may roll, 
And no man may the other's hurt behold. 
Yet each will have one anguish — his own soul 
Which perishes of cold." 

Here let that voice make end : then, let a strain 
From a far lonelier distance, like the wind 
Be heard, floating through heaven, and fill again 
These men's profoundest mind — 

" Childi-en of men ! the unseen Power, whose eye 
Ever accompanies the march of man, 
Hath without pain seen no religion die. 
Since first the world began. 

" That man must still to some new worship press 
Hath in his eye ever but serv'd to show 
The depth of that consuming restlessness 
Which makes man's greatest woe. 


" Which has uot taught weak wills how much they can, 
Which has not fall'n on the dry heart like rain 1 
Wliich has not cried to sunk seK-weary man, 
' Thou must be born again V 

" Children of men ! not that yom- age excel 
In pride of life the ages of your sires ; 
But that you too feel deeply, bear fruit well. 
The Friend of man desires." 



A WANDERER is man from his birth. 

He was bom in a ship 

On the breast of the River of Time. 

Brimming with wonder and joy 

He spreads out his arms to the light, 

Rivets his gaze on the banks of the stream. 

As what he sees is, so have his thoughts been. 
Whether he wakes 
Where the snowy mountainous pass 
Echoing the screams of the eagles 
Hems in its gorges the bed 
Of the new-born clear-flowing stream : 


Whether he first sees Hght 
Where the river in gleaming rings 

Sluggishly winds through the plain : 
Whether in sound of the swallowing sea : — 

As is the world on the banks 
So is the mind of the man. 

Vainly does each as he glides 

Fable and dream 

Of the lands which the River of Time 

Had left ere he woke on its breast, 

Or shall reach when his eyes have been clos'd. 

Only the tract where he sails 

He wots of : only the thoughts, 

Rais'd by the objects he passes, are his. 

Who can see the green Earth any more 
As she was by the sources of Time 1 
Who imagines her fields as they lay 
In the sunshine, unworn by the plough ? 


Who thinks as they thought, 
The tribes who then Hv'd on her breast, 
Her vigorous primitive sons ? 

What girl 
Now reads in her bosom as clear 
As Rebekah read, when she sate 
At eve by the palm-shaded well ? », > Im^ 

Who guards in her breaat 
As deep, as pellucid a spring 
Of feeling, as tranquil, as sure ? 

What Bard, 
At the height of his vision, can deem 
Of God, of the world, of the soul. 
With a plainness as near, 
As flashing as Moses felt, 
When he lay in the night by his flock 
On the starlit Arabian waste ? 


Can rise and obey 

The beck of the Spirit hke him 1 

This tract which the River of Time 
Now flows through with us, is the Plain. 
Gone is the calm of its earlier shore. 
Border'd by cities and hoarse 
With a thousand cries is its stream. 
And we on its breast, our minds 
Are confus'd as the cries which we hear, 

Changing and shot as the sights which we see. 

And we say that repose has fled 
For ever the course of the River of Time. 
That cities will crowd to its edge 
In a blacker incessanter line ; 
That the din will be more on its banks, 
Denser the trade on its stream, 
Flatter the plain where it flows, 
Fiercer the sun overhead. 


That never will those on its breast 

See an ennobling sight, 

Drink of the feeling of quiet again. 

But what was before us we know not, 
And we know not what shall succeed. 

Haply, the River of Time, 
As it grows, as the towns on its marge 
Fling their wavering lights 
On a ^\ider statelier stream — 
May acquire, if not the calm 
Of its early mountainous shore. 
Yet a solemn peace of its own. 

And the width of the waters, the hush 
Of the gi-ey expanse where he floats, 
Freshening its current and spotted with foam 
As it draws to the Ocean, may strike 


Peace to the soul of the man on its breast 
As the pale waste widens around him — 
As the banks fade dimmer away — 
As the stars come out, and the night- wind 
Brings up the stream • 

Murmurs and scents of the infinite Sea. 






Small octavo, price 4s. 6d.